The U.S. side of women’s tennis has no lack of up-and-coming stars. On Sunday an asterisk was put next to one in particular when 15-year-old Coco Gauff of Delray Beach, Fla., won her first WTA tour title at the Upper Austria Ladies Linz event, outlasting former French Open winner Jelena Ostapenko 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 in the final.
— USTA (@usta) October 13, 2019
Gauff was supposed to exit the event after losing in the qualifying rounds, but gained a main draw spot as a “lucky loser” after a main draw player dropped out of the event.
“I’m still overwhelmed and shocked,” said Gauff, who during the week recorded her first Top 10 win over Kiki Bertens. “I guess it’s crazy to say it’s my first WTA title. This was definitely not on the calendar at the beginning of the year, because I didn’t think I’d have a chance to get in, and now I’m the champion, so it’s crazy.”
Following a break-out performance where she reached the third round at the US Open last month, she now sits at No. 71 on the WTA rankings.
— WTA (@WTA) October 13, 2019
“It’s just literally insane that I got in as a lucky loser and now I’m the champion,” she said. “My dad told me when I got in, before the first main draw match, he said ‘You can’t lose twice in the same tournament!’ I’m sure he never thought it would come this far, to being the champion, but I guess he was right!”
The 15-year-old says she already has plans for the $43,000 in prize money.
“I know Halloween is coming up, and it’s one of my favorite times of year, so I guess I’ll splurge a little bit on my costume and make sure its right,” Gauff said. “I know last year they had a WTA contest for the best costumes, and I came in third [place]. This year my goal is to come in first!”
In the third set Gauff grabbed a 5-0 lead before eventually closing it out at 6-2.
“I started off the third set really strong,” she said “It’s been an unbelievable week for me.”
Gauff became the youngest WTA champion since 2004 when Nicole Vaidisova of the Czech Republic won in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. In March of this year, she made her WTA debut at the Miami Open, winning her opening round. She received a wild card into the qualifying at Wimbledon and became the youngest player to ever qualify for the main draw at the All England Club. She then defeated Venus Williams en route to the fourth round.
The Delray Beach resident’s result earner her a “special exempt” into the main draw of this week’s BGL BNP Paribas Luxembourg Open, where she was scheduled to play the qualifying rounds.
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