Less than two years after her first junior Grand Slam final, super talented American Cori Gauff will make Grand Slam debut on the senior level. This usual pattern in the young players' development becomes spicier if we know the fact that Gauff is only 15!
Cori Gauff has been anything but a regular tennis player born in 2004, proving her quality against the older juniors and also on the professional circuit in almost every tournament she has entered so far, finishing 2018 as the second-best junior in the world despite still being 14 and after playing 12 ITF junior events overall!
This amazing young athlete had chosen tennis over other sports when she was eight, moving with her family from Atlanta to Florida to build her game in the best possible way. Cori, nicknamed Coco, had been chosen by Patrick Mouratoglou to be part of his Champ’seed foundation and had a chance to work at his amazing academy and meet the idol Serena Williams.
Also, Gauff has forged her game at the New Generation Tennis Academy in Delray Beach, working with Gerard Loglo on her basic preparations and groundstrokes and with only one thing on her mind, to become the greatest player of all time!
Cori was destined to become a successful athlete, with her father Corey playing basketball for Georgia State University and her mother Candi who was a gymnast and ran tracker at Florida State University. Gauff turned pro in November, signing a contract with Team8 and waiting to turn 14 in March 2018 to start pro career.
As we already said, Coco was always in front of her coevals, winning the U12 National Clay Court Championships in 2014 at the age of ten and the U14 USTA National Selection Tournament in November that year before losing in the semi-final of the U12 Junior Orange Bowl to another prominent junior Whitney Osuigwe.
She won the U12 Orange Bowl in 2016 and the beginning of 2017 was very successful for Gauff as well, lifting the trophy at the Nike Junior International Bolton event and losing in the semi-final of Les Petits As to Dasha Lopatetskaya in what has been one of the best matches on the junior level in recent years.
Competing in only her second main draw on ITF junior level, Cori reached the final of the Prince George’s County International Hard Court Junior Tennis Championships last August before an amazing run at the US Open where she lost in the title match against Amanda Anisimova, still at the age of 13!
Whitney Osuigwe toppled Cori in the second round of the U18 Orange Bowl but she managed to win a set against the best junior in the world, setting the tone for 2018 when she became the leader of the pack. Gauff kicked off the previous season with the semi-final at the AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International before an early loss at the Australian Open.
After taking some weeks off, Cori turned 14 in March and couldn't wait to make a pro debut, entering $25,000 Osprey event at the end of May and writing history instantly, qualifying for the main draw and beating Alexandra Perper 6-2, 6-3 to become the first player born in 2004 with pro win!
The best was yet to come for this outstanding girl, though, heading to Paris to compete at Roland Garros as the youngest player in the junior main draw. Entering her first Major after turning 14, Cori went all the way to lift the title and become the fourth-youngest junior singles champion in Paris after Martina Hingis, Jennifer Capriati and Gabriela Sabatini, playing only her seventh ITF junior tournament in a career and proving her quality against much older rivals!
Caty McNally pushed her to the limits in the title match before Cori prevailed in the deciding tie break to write her name in the record books, producinging a thrilling package of powerful serving, great court coverage and a point-construction well worth of some much older and experienced player.
Carried by this momentum, Gauff went back to the USA and qualified for her second pro event at $25,000 Baton Rouge, overcoming three obstacles in qualifications and beating Hayley Carter for her second pro win. There was no time for celebration, though, heading back to Europe where she entered Grade 1 Junior International in Roehampton, scoring another win over Caty McNally to win back-to-back junior titles and move to Wimbledon as the 3rd seed despite the fact she was the youngest player in the draw once again.
Xiyu Wang halted her in the quarters after a great battle and the American also played in the doubles semi-final to earn enough points and become junior no. 1 at the age of 14, moving 153 points ahead of Whitney Osuigwe to grab another milestone that will stay intact for years to come.
By the end of the season, Cori played just three junior events, losing to Dasha Lopatetskaya in the quarter-final of the US Open but winning the doubles title with McNally, repeating the same feat at the Mundial Juvenil Yucatan to collect more points and keep herself among the best juniors in the world.
Orange Bowl was the perfect place for Cori to wrap up her season, competing at one of her most favorite events near the place she lives and trains. After five easy wins, Gauff prevailed against Qinwen Zheng in the title match to win her third big junior title and finish the year ranked second behind the 17-year-old Clara Burel.
Cori's junior career was over at the time it just starts for her coevals, focusing on the pro events and reaching the first pro final at Surprise ITF event, collecting both points and experience that led her towards one triumph at Miami Masters, adding more records to her tally and building her way towards the top-300.
Cori will crack that group after Wimbledon, receiving a qualifying wild card and beating three rivals in great fashion to become the youngest Wimbledon qualifier in the Open era at the age of 15 years and three months! The young American will make a perfect big scene debut, facing the five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams on Court 1 in a thrilling first-round encounter that should produce incredible tennis from the youngest and the oldest player in the draw!
One thing is sure, Cori Gauff is the future of women's tennis and we should see a lot from her in the next two decades or so, competing with an incredible will for success and working on her game on a regular basis to achieve the ultimate goal and become the greatest player of all time!