By E.J. Crawford
Throughout the year, EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com will be taking a look at players who could contend or surprise during this year's Series. Up now: big-serving CoCo Vandeweghe, the 23-year-old American who ousted three seeds en route to the Wimbledon quarterfinals.
The CoCo Vandeweghe File
Residence: Rancho Santa Fe, CA
Current Rank: 47
Career-High Rank: 32 (February 2015)
Best 2014 Series Result: QF (Montreal)
CoCo Vandeweghe first made waves in international tennis in 2008, when she won the US Open girls’ singles title behind a booming power game. Professional success, however, has been a steeper climb. Now, after some fits and starts, Vandeweghe is beginning to deliver on her early promise, improving her fitness to complement one of the biggest serves in the women’s game and becoming a reliably tough out on the world’s biggest stages.
Vandeweghe comes from a sporting family. She counts former NBA players Ernie and Kiki Vandeweghe as relatives (grandfather and uncle, respectively), and her mother, Tauna, was an Olympic swimmer. But after playing multiple sports as a youngster, CoCo slowly gravitated toward tennis, using her height and athleticism as the roots for a big-serving, big-hitting game. That was enough early on, and Vandeweghe enjoyed some success, winning a couple of USTA Pro Circuit titles in 2010 and advancing to the second round at the 2011 US Open. But after improving her ranking from No. 354 in 2009 to No. 114 in 2010, Vandeweghe plateaued. She finished 2011, 2012 and 2013 around No. 100 in the world, and her second-round showings at the Open in 2011 and 2013 were her only Grand Slam victories.
Then, last year, Vandeweghe rededicated herself to the game, focusing on fitness, nutrition and long hours on the practice courts. The early results were positive – she finished 2014 at No. 40 in the world – but her hard work has truly born fruit in 2015. She opened the year by reaching the third round at the Australian Open and, after some struggles on clay, she re-established herself during the grass-court season by reaching the quarterfinals in ‘s-Hertogenbosch and the round of 16 in Eastbourne. Her real breakthrough, however, came at Wimbledon, where she defeated No. 11 Karolina Pliskova, No. 22 Samantha Stosur and No. 6 Lucie Safarova consecutively to advance to the quarterfinals.
Her Wimbledon result will vault her back into the Top 40 when the new rankings are released on Monday and should set her up well for the summer season on her favorite surface: hard courts. And with the same lethal serve and a growing confidence in her all-court game, Vandeweghe has a real chance to repeat her Wimbledon success during the North American hard-court circuit.