Coming of Age: Coco Gauff singles and doubles her pleasure at Palma

     “…I was just going to go for it and trust myself and trust my decisions…here it felt more like it was meant to be…” Coco Gauff, explained after her singles win over Wang Qiang in Parma, Italy. It is obvious that the 17-year-old has been leading up to her two wins in a single day, since the beginning of the year.

     She would start her trek at the Abu Dhabi Open in January getting to the second round in three straight tournaments. It might have proved a ‘downer’ for Gauff, but she never let up and continued her tour going into the Adelaide International with a positive attitude on doing better. The 17-year-old had previously been defeated by Maria Sakkari and Elina Svitolina but her breakout tournament was in Adelaide when she made it to the semifinals at Dubai and the charleston Open along with the semifinal in Rome. She was entangled in a tough match with another teen, 19-year-old Iga Swiatek of Poland. Unfortunately, Gauff was defeated in straight sets by the teen but it was her road to the Italian semifinal that was so significant in improving her skills. She had defeated Maria Sakkari, Aryna Sabalenka and Ashleigh Barty to make it to the semifinal round with the Polish teen at the Italian Open.

     Gauff’s confidence was soaring as she landed in Parma, a new WTA 250 tour event. She had done well on every round there and only dropped a set with Katerina Siniakova in the semifinal. It was Gauff’s strategies and consistency that carried her over into the final of the Emilia-Romagna in Parma and when she entered the championship round with Wang Qiang, she just felt that it must be her match and her title. Qiang’s ability to neutralize Gauffs game wasn’t there and Coco had proven unbeatable in the opening round with her hard returning shots and dynamic strategies. 

In the first set, Gauff won 6-1.

It only took the last set to overpower and seal the match at 6-3. There was much pressure on her to win this challenger not only to improve her rankings but to prove to herself that she can win on clay. It was her first championship on clay and this will continue to make her efforts positive at Roland Garros. “I feel really good about going into the French, and I hope I can continue to build and get better,” she smilingly said. Coco Gauff had proper rest and entered the court with her doubles partner Caty McNally to play the doubles final. Both young women have titles together and were unnerved in playing aggressive and winning over their Slovenia and Croatia opponents Andreja Klepac and Darija Jurak in straight sets. Coco is going into the Parisian Grand Slam with an excellent attitude and says of her timeframe for the event that “I have a week and a day to get ready. I feel like I’m hitting good, moving well…I think it will be a good tournament for me.”

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