By Editorial Team
Hailey Baptiste was able to win her first $25K title this weekend in Plantation, Florida after rising through the qualifying rounds. Hailey’s game took off tremendously last year as she went deep in a few $60K and $80K events as a qualifier. With impressive results (including straight beat-downs on top ranked junior Caty McNally), her ranking has skyrocketed into the top 300.
Hailey did not experience the highs of the ITF World Junior circuit, but she was able to excel in doubles at the 2018 US Open Juniors where she reached the finals with partner Dalayna Hewitt.
Her former junior counterpart, Cori Gauff, received a wildcard this week in the Midland $100K event where she plays fellow American and teenage wildcard Ashley Kratzer (top 200 ranked) in the first round. Plus, Cori is scheduled to play the $25K in Surprise, AZ in early February where she received the main draw junior exemption (JE).
Expect to see more of Hailey on the WTA Pro circuit as she blows up draws sheets, whether main draw or qualifying. With a limited number of US based ITF events it is imperative that she continue to push forward in every tournament to accumulate points within the newly developed ITF World Tennis Tour.
2021 Calabasas Championships
Battle of the ages: Venus vs. CoCo
By Editorial Team
In addition to becoming the youngest player to enter the main draw of Wimbledon via qualifying, Cori “CoCo” Gauff has earned a prim-time match-up against one of the greatest grass court players of all time in the first round of play.
This match is not only a first, but also a sharp contrast of current generation talent versus veteran grand slam champion. Venus just turned 39 this month and must now face the 15 year old dynamo that goes by CoCo making this a true battle of the ages. Ironically, as in a Hollywood movie, these two are respectively the oldest and youngest players in the tournament.
Venus can sure respect Cori’s hustle in advancing her career at the ripe age of 15. Venus shares a similar start, but was able to win 5 Wimbledon titles with the last win in 2008.
Coming off of a great 2017 season, Venus (unseeded this year) has struggled lately with injuries and fatigue late in matches. This year has not rolled out favorably for Venus after several on-off coaching relationships and hitting partners. Taking on a more independent role of seasoned veteran, Venus is going at it alone on tour. She has a strong management team in place, but they appear to be more assistants than highly experienced coaches giving her instruction.
In contrast, Cori has a tight-knit team around her not to mention her father as head coach. There have been several assistants offering advice, but Corey remains the largest influence on Cori’s progress.
Progress is exactly what they have made – and in short record time. Just last year Cori was making her way toward the Roehamption Championship title as the world’s number one ranked junior. It seems as if Cori has a trusting relationship with her Dad and is able to take constructive criticism in stride. Hard work has been Cori’s mantra since the beginning of her junior career, and that hard work and preparation has landed her here at Wimbledon with a main draw match against Venus Williams.
The odds heavily favor Venus, but nothing is out of the question for Cori. Given the fact that she has played each qualifying round with a “nothing to lose” attitude, it can only be assumed that she will continue to do the same in her first round match.
The big stage is also a factor as Cori has not played on such a large WTA Tour center court yet in her career. This will definitely be a learning experience for Cori. It may be a little ambitious to expect Cori to figure out the atmosphere and surroundings all within a 2 out of 3 match. Cori is undefeated at Roehamption (ITF Juniors and WTA Qualifying), but it remains to be seen if she can muster a win against a declining, but a still very capable Venus Williams on her favorite surface.
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