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Tennis Phenom • 15 Year-Old Coco Gauff’s Win In Linz • She’s A Star Beyond The WTA’s Rules • 10sBalls

By: Thomas Cluck

Professional tennis in 2019 isn’t supposed to be like this. It’s all about 30 plus year-old legends defying Father Time and the rest of the world following behind… And then Coco Gauff showed up.

Still just 15 years old and in her first six months on the pro circuit, Gauff, born in Atlanta, Georgia and now living in Delray Beach, Florida, has defied every expectation and rule for how young teenage phenoms are supposed to play tennis in 2019, winning her first WTA tour title in just her fifth pro main draw appearance, becoming the youngest player to win a title on the WTA since Czech phenom Nicole Vaidisova, fittingly 15 years ago in 2004. 
Coming through a talented Qualifying draw as a “Lucky Loser” following her final round qualifying loss to Tamara Korpatsch, Gauff handled one of the most unusual elements of a sport where a loss almost always means the end of your tournament, coming back into the main draw and storming past established pros all the way to her maiden tour title in Linz. 

Gauff secured her first WTA title with a strong victory in the final over 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko, then at 20 thought to be a young star, handling the moment of her first final beautifully to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 and claim the Upper Austria Ladies Linz Title. 

Besides the obvious talent and breakthrough results at just 15- drawing some parallels to fellow Americans, legends Serena and Venus Williams- Gauff is doing arguably the harder part of being a new teen star, winning the matches where the opponent isn’t big, the spotlight isn’t on, and the court is small, the stuff everyday professionals must do if they hope to ever become a Grand Slam champion or world number one player.

That’s what Gauff’s win in Linz means. It might be frustrating that the WTA age eligibility rules haven’t caught up to a once-in-a-lifetime teen talent like Gauff, but it just means she’ll have to go about things the harder way more for a little longer: winning on the small stages. 

Luckily for Coco and us, she’s proven she can do that. And she’ll do the boring, mundane, everyday parts of being a pro player again come Monday, playing round one in Luxembourg. It’s not shiny or sexy, but it’s necessary and impressive. And it’s the path- the only one available- to teen greatness for Gauff.

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