Katie Codd manages a little giggle when asked if she’s ever played fellow 15-year-old Coco Gauff, Florida’s tennis phenom who shocked the tennis world last month by qualifying for Wimbledon and beating former champion and world No. 1 Venus Williams on Centre Court at the All-England Club.
“Nope. Never played her, never been in the same draw with her, don’t even know her,” said Codd, the Carlsbad resident who may not rank among the world’s top 15-year-olds like Gauff, but is certainly in the conversation when talking about tops in the nation at that age.
Codd leads a talented group of Southern California players set to compete starting this weekend in the USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 16s & 18s National Championships presented by Adidas.
It wouldn’t have been uncommon for Codd to have been in the same draw as Gauff as both started competitive tournament play early with Codd beginning at age 4 under the support and guidance of her parents Thomas and Tanya Codd. Originally from Boise, Idaho, the Codd family made the move to north San Diego County when Codd was 6.
Codd plays up in the 18s in SCTA Level 3 or lower tournaments, but will stay within her age-group and play the 16s next week. She’s aware the San Diego National 16s have been won by former all-time greats like Chris Evert, Tracy Austin, Zina Garrison and current WTA player Lauren Davis.
“I’m really excited we don’t have to travel and the tournament is so close,” said Codd, who lost in last month’s USTA Clay Court Nationals 16s in the quarterfinals to eventual winner Aubrey Nisbet in Huntsville, Ala. “It looks like there are a lot of good local players entered in Nationals.”
The cool ocean breeze San Diego offers will be a welcome respite from the hot and humid temperatures Codd faced in Alabama.
One year ago at the USTA Girls’ 14s Hardcourt Nationals in Rome, Ga., Codd never got to finish her first-round main-draw match, instead withdrawing due to heat sickness before rebounding to win a few rounds in the consolation draw.
“I wasn’t used to it and didn’t drink enough fluids or eat the right things,” Codd said, adding that she did those things last month at Clay Courts in Alabama to much different results.
An incoming sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy, Codd said she doesn’t think she will play high school tennis in the fall, one year after winning the CIF-San Diego Section singles title as a freshman, beating her close friend and teammate in the final.
Instead, she will spend more time continuing to work with her personal coach Marc Picker out of Park Hyatt Aviara.
Her No. 1 goal is to play college tennis, and lists powerhouse programs USC, UCLA, Pepperdine and Stanford as her top choices on www.tennisrecruiting.com.
“I’ve gone to a few college camps, but haven’t emailed them yet,” Codd said. “They’re all in the same boat right now. It’s still early.”
Codd, who has a 14-year-old brother Jackson who also plays tennis, said she balances tennis and school almost equally. “I do more tennis than school, but I think I do a good job of balancing the two.”
She said home schooling is a possible future option, and that it’s a tough call and something she has discussed with her parents. “So far we’ve been able to maintain it, both the tennis and school,” she said. “We’ve debated it, but I don’t think I could handle the isolation.”
Codd is a former swimmer and dancer who said she surfs and spends most her time at the beach in her time off the court.
The Opening Ceremony for the USTA National Girls’ 16s & 18s National Championships is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Barnes Tennis Center. Tennis Channel will broadcast the Girls’ 16s singles final from 1-3 p.m. (PDT) on Saturday, August 10 and the Girls’ 18s singles final from 2-4 p.m. (PDT) on Sunday, August 11. All tournament matches played on Stadium Court at Barnes will be streamed live at www.ustagirlsnationals.com beginning Saturday, August 3 through Friday, August 9.