With a name like Coco Vandeweghe, going under the radar has never been that easy for a woman who is now ranked as the fifth‑best American player.
Throw in the facts that her grandmother was a former Miss America, her grandfather played basketball for the New York Knicks and her mother was an Olympic swimmer and it is pretty obvious that making her way in the world in her own right was never going to be simple.
At 24, though, the hard-hitting American is beginning to make a name for herself through her tennis achievements, notably at Wimbledon, where on Monday she will bid for a place in the quarter-finals for the second year in a row.
On Sunday, she took out the No6 seed, Roberta Vinci, of Italy – the woman who ended Serena Williams’s hopes of the calendar year grand slam last summer at the US Open – 6-3, 6-4 and on Monday she will be favourite to defeat Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round.
Her ranking of 30 is just one off her career high, achieved the week before Wimbledon, and with each round she is beginning to feel like she might be capable of something big
Victory against Pavlyuchenkova would almost certainly put Vandeweghe into a quarter-final against the world No1, Williams, and confidence, on the court at least, is not lacking.
“My grandmother always said to me: ‘Fake it till you make it,’” she said. “Coming from a Miss America that basically had to ooze confidence, that’s a pretty good line.”
Vandeweghe said she was proud of the work her family had done away from their sporting arena – her grandfather was “on the presidential board of health” for the United States and her mother did a lot of work for the Women’s Sports Foundation. “The only trumping factor is now I’ll get to be an Olympian, so my mom can’t hold that over me,” she said, laughing.
Raised from a young age by her grandparents after her parents’ divorce, Vandeweghe was brought up around high achievers, absorbing everything almost without noticing.
“My grandfather would throw something at me when I was doing my homework just to make sure I’m quick and ready. It was fun, we grew up in a competitive household. Everything was competitive, from card games, to racing to the car first to get the front seat.”
It has stood her in good stead, that’s for sure, and her powerful serve and good all-round game were too much for Vinci. Having reached the quarter-finals last year, she knows her game is there. Now it is about showing it on the big stage.
“I never really doubted the possibility of beating good players in a big tournament,” she said. “You have to prove it and do it in every tournament. That’s what I have been doing a better job of in the past two years, beating the better players for a majority of the time, not a flash-in-the-pan sort of moment.”
Vandeweghe said the No21 seed Pavlyuchenkova – who comfortably beat the No11 seed Timea Bacsinszky, from Switzerland, 6-3, 6-2 – would be a totally different match-up from Vinci, whose slice and dice game she was able to overpower with relative ease.
“The only other time I played her was two years ago or three years ago in Miami,” the American said.
“That was a tough three-setter. She was top 20 in the world at the time, or close to it. I had come through qualifying. It’s going to be a totally different animal. She beat a tough player in Bacsinszky. We’ll see what happens when I wake up Monday morning.”
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