Tennis daughters following in their mothers’ footsteps — Quotes from the Citi Open — Must-click women’s tennis links
The IX: Tennis Tuesday with Joey Dillon, August 2, 2022
Happy Tennis Tuesday, y’all! August is finally here and while summer is ending for many, it’s not for the WTA! The North American hardcourt season has finally arrived! We’ve already had two big upsets at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic thanks to Elizabeth Mandlik. Now, you’re likely thinking, “who the hell is she?” If Mandlik sounds familiar, that’s because Elizabeth is one of the famous tennis daughters — the daughter of Hall of Famer Hana Mandlikova.
While her twin, Mark, decided to go the collegiate route and plays for the University of Oklahoma Sooners, Elizabeth — who goes by Elli — decided to turn pro after a successful ITF junior career that saw the American peak at No. 17.
The journey up the tennis ladder has been a bit slower than Mandlik wanted, but in 2022, she’s exploded up the WTA rankings. This year alone, she’s won three $25,000 ITF World Tour events while reaching a semifinal at another on top of a final four finish at the $60,000 event in Evansville, Indiana, two weeks ago.
The momentum into San Jose propelled Elli into the main draw after a win over World No. 21 Jil Teichmann, who was the top seed in qualifying after not originally signing up for the tournament. She followed up the biggest win of her career with a first-round victory over Alison Riske-Amritraj that was sealed with an ace. Her reward? A battle against World No. 4 Paula Badosa.
While Mandlik’s goals include Grand Slam entry on her own ranking, it’s all about enjoying the game and the process behind it. However, she wasn’t the only daughter this week to have a huge debut WTA victory.
Makenna Jones, daughter of former WTA No, 41 Tami Whitlinger-Jones and ATP Doubles No. 1 Kelly Jones, finished her collegiate playing career at The University of North Carolina in 2021 with an NCAA Doubles Championship. Following the win, her Summer followed by her WTA debut in San Jose and then the US Open. Jones left Chapel Hill a four-time All American, 3-time ITA Team Indoor and 4-time ACC champion and a multiple record holder.
Thanks to that extra COVID year, she played her final season as a graduate student and graduated this past Spring with her degree in Sports Management, while balancing professional events on the USTA Pro Circuit and Universal Tennis Professional Tennis Tour. Since 2021, between the two, she’s went 47-12 in singles and 32-12 in doubles.
The recent SoCal Pro Circuit afforded Jones the opportunity to stay in the area for multiple ITF World Tour events. The move paid massive dividends, where she won her first professional title and finaled at another in singles. Though no surprise, she did even better in doubles — winning two titles and reaching the championship in a third. Her own momentum saw her land in Washington D.C. as a wildcard with Sloane Stephens.
Now, how did that come about? Kelly, who is the former Men’s Tennis coach at Furman University, is on a trial coaching period with Stephens. The opportunity to partner up in D.C. led to Jones’ first WTA victory. Stephens and Jones had to battle back from 3-7 in the match tiebreaker against Sophie Chang and Astra Sharma, 6-3, 5-7, [11-9]. They have a tough quarterfinal match against No. 3 seeds Lucie Hradecka and Monica Niculescu, but the win alone will help propel Jones into more high-level tournaments and perhaps more wildcards down the pipeline if they continue to do well.
Now, before we all sulk that our parents weren’t athletic greats, go check out the links!
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This Week in Women’s Tennis
It may not be the biggest news, but for this Ohio resident, it could be big. It was announced that the USTA’s sanction for the Western & Southern Open has been sold to Ben Navarro, owner of the Credit One Charleston Open and father of NCAA standout-turned-pro Emma. However, we can all breathe as it was said that the tournament will not be leaving Cincinnati.
Serena Williams isn’t playing the Citi Open this week, but she showed up to support Venus and get some practice reps in. Safe to say — she’s serious.
This week’s must-read comes from WTA Insider. They sat down with Taylor Townsend as the former No. 1 junior comes back from maternity leave — according to her own plan.
Caroline Garcia is entering the hardcourt season on a hot streak. She captured her second WTA singles title in the last five weeks with a straight-sets win over Ana Bogdan at the BNP Paribas Poland Open, but also upset World No. 1 Iga Swiatek in the process. Anna Danilina and Anna-Lena Friedsam were crowned doubles champions by downing Katarzyna Kawa and Alicja Rosolska in a match tiebreaker.
At the Livesport Prague Open, Marie Bouzkova delighted the home crowd by winning her first WTA singles title. The Czech routed Anastasia Potapova to cap a fantastic week where she only dropped 26 games in her five matches. The doubles title went to Potapova and Yana Sizikova, who won their second title as a duo with a two-setter over Angelina Gabueva and Anastasia Zakharova.
Hailey Baptiste has been touted as a future Top 50 product for years, but the American shared the struggles of staying healthy, both physically and financially, as she navigates the beginning stages of her professional career.
It’s common for Wimbledon champions to have a lull in the beginning of the summer hardcourt series. It’s no different for Elena Rybakina, who felt the affects from the post-tournament rush and faltered in her first match since to Daria Kasatkina at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
Remember when we had the big Czech boom ten years ago? Well, if this past week in Prague is any indication, we’re in for another one.
In this week’s coaching news, Emma Raducanu announced she’s trialing with Dmitry Tursunov, which is pretty interesting given England’s ban on Russians and Belarussian players at Wimbledon. Naomi Osaka also opened up about her split with Wim Fissette. Max Wenders, a coach from the Netherlands, has been banned for 12 years for match-fixing.
If there’s anything Coco Gauff is, “flop” ain’t one of them:
The tour welcomes Sofia Kenin this week at the Citi Open following a lengthy absence due to a foot injury, but the 2020 Australian Open champion says she’s grateful to be back. Still, the American aims for success this upcoming hardcourt swing.
Legends are meeting legends in San Jose:
Congratulations to Ashleigh Barty, who officially wed her longtime boyfriend Garry Kissick in an intimate ceremony back in Australia.
At the halfway mark of the season, WTA Charities’ ACEing Cancer by Hologic campaign has raised $36,500 to help support cancer in women initiatives.
Tweet of the Week
Not a tweet, but this series the WTA is doing is a must-see:
Five at The IX: Citi Open
Q. We followed your progress on the tour. When it came to pro tennis, nothing came easy to you. The Washington title, was it the confidence building or was there more? You’ve obviously progressed. You weren’t the phenom at 17 that everyone was talking about. Here you are today. Some of them we don’t remember any more. Was it the confidence that this is doable on a regular basis?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I think it just gave me confidence that I can be at this level and win at this level, perform at this level day in and day out.
Obviously I had to go through a lot more challenges after that tournament. Then it was playing the bigger events. Then it was doing better at Grand Slams. Trying to get that consistency. This was definitely a steppingstone to that. I think it was one of the earlier stepping stones of establishing myself on tour, establishing myself as someone who could win these tournaments.
Of course, there’s someone usually every week winning these tournaments, but I think I used it in a good way to build even more on top of that. I think that was really important, was that after I won this event, I still had a lot more challenges I had to go through.
I was able to use this as a really kind of learning experience as well as confidence, take that with me to the next level.
Q. By any stretch of the imagination you’ve had a remarkable year since winning the US Open. Can you share some thoughts what you’ve learned about yourself over the past year.
EMMA RADUCANU: Yeah, I would say that, take away the US Open, the results I’ve had in the past year wouldn’t have been terrible for any 18-, 19-year-old. I have to take a step back and give myself a pat on the back, as well.
This year was always going to be pretty tricky, trying to find my feet at this sort of level. I skipped every stage basically. I went from playing a few 25s to playing the top 10 or playing the slams and everything. Still managed to win a round or two in some bigger events. I’m quite proud of myself in that way.
I’ve learnt that I’m pretty resilient. I’ve pretty much been knocked down every single week literally in front of everyone, get back up every single time.
It’s just a fun learning experience for me. I would say that.
Q. Simona, can you share some thoughts about the challenge of leaving Darren Cahill and taking on Patrick Mouratoglou as your coach. Is that something you could have foreseen happening? How has the transition been?
SIMONA HALEP: First of all, Darren left me in September last year, so I didn’t leave him. Secondly, I will not compare because they are super different.
What I can say in this moment it’s the best thing that could happen to me, to meet Patrick. He has super energy. He’s super kind. So it means a lot for me to work with people like this.
All his experience and all his advice is amazing, so I’m enjoying a lot this period. He brought me back to love tennis, to love working, which never happened before. Now I’m just giving my best every day. We don’t have expectations in order of results. We just have expectations to work hard and to improve.
Q. From winning the US Open, how are you going to change maybe how you prepare for this US Open? How are you going to use the Citi Open to prepare for US Open?
EMMA RADUCANU: I think every week leading up to the US Open, it’s great to build from it. I mean, I started training, like, two weeks ago. I think that with every week, you learn a bit more of what works, what doesn’t work.
Starting here in the Citi Open, you’ll see what happens on the match court, you’ll analyze it, you’ll be like, Hey, this didn’t work, I need to do this better for the next match.
You use every single week as an opportunity to try to do that. I’m not really thinking too far ahead about the US Open, that I need to win the US Open again. I don’t. I just want to improve.
I’m focusing on what I’m training on every single day. That’s how the best results happen, when you’re that focused on what you’re doing every single session.
Q. It’s been three years since you won your first title here. Is there anything that you can point to in the past three years that has enabled you to advance your career as well as you have? What will it take to be able to maintain the success?
JESSICA PEGULA: Yeah, I’ve gone through a lot of challenges. Obviously I think being healthy is huge, especially in today’s game. I think the game is improving so quickly every week, I feel like everyone’s always getting better and the level’s getting higher.
Really, like, taking care of my body very seriously because I’ve been through a lot of bad injuries and I know what it’s like. You can see when girls get hurt, they’re out for three to six months or something, it’s really difficult to come back. It’s not that easy. The level just keeps kind of growing and you’re playing catch-up more or less.
To me, I don’t want to do that. Like I said, I’m not 17. I’m not old, I’m 28, so I don’t want to really want to waste any time doing that. I already did enough of that.
Health has definitely been, like, the main priority I’d say, just coming from all my injuries. That in itself gives me a lot of confidence, it gives me the ability to go out and perform and train at my best every single day. I think that starts to add up after a long period of time.
Me being able to keep that consistency just gives me confidence. It kind of just goes all together. Like I said, it’s like building blocks. Throughout the year there’s been times where obviously mentally you’re really tired and stuff like that. I don’t know, I think I’ve just been able to, I don’t know, embrace the grind of every single day and really enjoy it. Yeah, I think that’s just helped a lot the last three years.
There’s been a lot of ups and downs, but it’s been good more or less.
|By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
|By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
|By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
|By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
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|By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer