Sports

Young Atlanta Native Who Scored A Tennis First Is Patiently Perfecting Her Craft

Cori Gauff, of the United States, returns a shot from Amanda Anisimova, during the junior girls singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 2017, in New York.
Cori Gauff, of the United States, returns a shot from Amanda Anisimova, during the junior girls singles final of the U.S. Open tennis tournament in 2017, in New York.
Credit Julie Jacobson / Associated Press
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The Women’s Tennis Association’s 324th-ranked player is among the game’s most popular these days.

While Atlanta native Cori “Coco” Gauff has played in only 10 professional tour events thus far, she’s been trending on social media recently following her impressive French Open qualifier victory.

https://twitter.com/GAFollowers/status/1131686231912439809

What’s so impressive about winning a match before the actual Grand Slam tournament even began?

Gauff, 15, is now the youngest female player, American or otherwise, to have done so. But it’s just part of what could be an amazing upward trajectory for the teen who is patiently crafting an impressive young player’s resume. Keyword: patiently.

In 2017 at the age of 13, she was the youngest runner-up at the U.S. Open Juniors tournament. A year later, she was a quarter-finalist at the Wimbledon Juniors and was the French Open Juniors champion, thus the entry into the qualifiers at this year’s French Open and the history-making victory.

Gauff’s prodigy doesn’t come from nowhere.

Her parents were both Division I athletes, and she has been playing tennis since she was 7. Former Georgia State University basketball player Corey Gauff and Florida State University track athlete Candi Gauff saw something special in Cori early on and moved the family to Delray Beach, Florida — a tennis hotbed — in order for her to play full time and against the level of competition.

Cori made her professional debut in May 2018 at a tournament in Osprey, Florida, and as of May 2019 is 21-13 overall. That’s not necessarily on the level of more established, but still young, stars Sloane Stephens (WTA rank: 7), Madison Keys (14) or even 23-year-old American Taylor Townsend (98), who are all African American. Still, Gauff is the youngest player in the top 400 with fellow teenage American standouts Amanda Anisimova (51), Whitney Osuigwe (119) and Hailey Baptiste (308), all 17 years of age.

The future continues to be bright for American tennis, and Cori Gauff, who signed a multi-year deal with New Balance, is going to have to be included in the conversation.

For now, Gauff is moving along at a solid pace. Prior to the start of Wimbledon on July 1, there are a number of WTA events in Croatia, The Netherlands, Great Britain (Nature Valley Open in Nottingham) and Mallorca, Spain, coming up.

Social media and the hype machine that is sports media, no doubt waiting for another look at Gauff, will have to stay tuned and be patient.