Southern California Tennis

Wimbledon – Vandeweghe’s Day & Stephens’ Too

Coco Vandeweghe kicked off her 2015 Wimbledon rolling past Anna Karolina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, 6-4, 6-2 in seventy-one minutes. In the process, she won fifty-six of the points played; served ten aces; had twenty-six unforced errors, but hit twenty-eight total winners.

Coco Vandeweghe  Photo Susan Mullane -  camerawork usa

Coco Vandeweghe
Photo Susan Mullane – camerawork usa

After the contest, the forever, (or so it seems), effervescent Vandeweghe, who is as expressive in the interview room as she, occasionally, can be on court, said, “Hopefully, when you play your first round match, you don’t waste much time. Of course, if things go too quickly, you can also be on the wrong end of the score. So you want to follow your game plan and have a good result.”

Vandeweghe developed her strategy with new coach, Craig Kardon. They first teamed up at Roland Garros after the 2008 US Open Girls’ champion parted ways with Maciej Synowka of Poland just prior to the tournament’s start in Paris. “It is a learning process because we have spent so little time together,” she said of the new partnership with Kardon. “When we first talked in Paris, he said ‘I am out there with you playing every point.’ Having him say that was so important. It really meant a lot.”

Sloane Stephens made her Centre Court debut against Barbora Strycova of the Czech Republic. In eighty-three minutes, she proved to be comfortable in the spotlight, downing the No. 27 seed, 6-4, 6-2. She packaged thirteen unforced errors with thirteen winners, claiming fifty-eight percent of the points played.

Sloane Stephens  Photo Susan Mullane - camerawork usa

Sloane Stephens
Photo Susan Mullane – camerawork usa

Following the match, she explained, “To beat a seeded player in the first round, is obviously a good thing. Playing on Centre Court for the first time was also good. Overall, it was a good day for me.”

Stephens said of storied court’s aura, “I said to my coach (Nick Saviano) that I had never seen the inside of Centre Court accept on TV. I had played on Court 1, plenty of times, but I had never been on Centre for some reason. It was a big moment, and I was thankful for the opportunity. It was really fun.”

When she is not traveling the world competing, San Diego is Vandeweghe’s home. Actually, Rancho Santa Fe is her base. Taylor Fritz, the Roland Garros Simple Garsons finalist, also resides there. “I worked with Guy (Fritz, who is Taylor’s father) between the ages of eleven and fourteen. I know I hadn’t gotten my Learners Permit yet,” the twenty-three-year-old said grinning. “Kathy (May Fritz, Taylors’s mother) was around a lot. In fact, we played a doubles tournament in San Diego. I think it was the (Balboa) Open Maureen Connolly (Brinker Memorial Tournament). Kathy carried me, but I don’t remember how we did.”

May Fritz didn’t remember the specifics either, but Geoff Griffin, a member of the Southern California Tennis Association’s Board of Directors, and Director of Tennis at the Balboa Tennis Club, where the tournament is played, unearthed the details. “They played together in 2005, and were seeded No. 2,” he said. “They lost in the semifinals, in three sets, to Laila Abdala and Joslynn Burkett, who lost to Allison Bradshaw and Katy Popstra in the final.”

Vandeweghe began concentrating on tennis late. As a youngster she was a “jock” admitting, “I played basketball until I was fifteen.” She mentioned that Kardon enjoys golf so she may take him on. “It would probably be nine holes because I get bored playing more,” she admitted. She added, “I used to play with my grandfather, (Ernie Vandeweghe, who, while he played for the NBA New York Nicks, studied medicine at Columbia and in time, became the Los Angeles Lakers team doctor.) I’d take my left-handed swing and try to outdrive my older brother (Beau) because whoever hit it the farthest got to drive the golf cart.” Incentives do work in mysterious ways.

Both Nicole Gibbs and Shelby Rogers faced unyielding first round tests, and their opponents ended up with the “Ws.” Lesia Tsurenko of Ukraine evened her career record against the two-time NCAA singles winner (2012 and ’13) during her days at Stanford, scoring a 6-3, 6-3 victory. Andrea Petkovic of Germany played like the fourteenth seed, dispatching Shelby Rogers without losing a game.

Next up for Vandeweghe is No. 11 seed, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, while Stephens takes on American, Lauren Davis.

After solid first round performances at the All England Lawn Tennis Club, both players appear to be well prepared for their upcoming challenges.

Mark Winters

Look for a fresh examination of tennis topics at “Mark Thoughts”

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