15-year-old Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff headlines Week 2

Cori Gauff of the US during a practice day on Sunday. (Reuters)
Updated 08 July 2019

15-year-old Wimbledon sensation Coco Gauff headlines Week 2

  • She was never overwhelmed by facing Williams, someone she has grown up admiring

WIMBLEDON: Mom and racket-holding Dad joined two coaches and a hitting partner at Coco Gauff’s practice session on a cloudy Sunday afternoon at the All England Club as the 15-year-old American prepared for what could be the toughest test yet of her hard-to-believe Grand Slam debut.

A qualifier who is ranked 313th and the youngest player to make it to Week 2 at Wimbledon since Jennifer Capriati in 1991, Gauff put in extra work on her forehand as she got ready to face former No. 1 Simona Halep in the most-anticipated matchup of the fourth round when the tournament resumes Monday.

“I don’t know a lot about her,” said Halep, the 2018 French Open champion.

For all that she’s already accomplished over the past 1½ weeks — including a victory over seven-time major champion Venus Williams — and all of the attention she’s received — messages via social media from Michelle Obama, Beyonce’s mother and singer Jaden Smith thrilled her the most — what truly stands out about Gauff is her composure, both on and off the tennis court.

“You can kind of fake it ‘til you make it,” said Gauff, who lives in Delray Beach, Florida. “But I’m not faking it, at least right now.”

She was never overwhelmed by facing Williams, someone she has grown up admiring. She spoke about resetting her mind after that, and won her next match in straight sets, too, against a past Wimbledon semifinalist. 

And in the third round, at Center Court of all places, Gauff was not bothered by twice being a point from losing.

“My parents are just telling me to stay calm, stay focused, because the tournament is not over yet,” Gauff said. “That’s why I’ve been kind of celebrating the night after the matches, then the next day back to practice.”

That’s the sort of levelheadedness that could help her turn what right now is a brief, magical run into a lengthy, successful career.

“This is the easy part,” said Tracy Austin, who watched part of Gauff’s training session. “As she said, before she played Venus, she had one little boy ask her for a picture. And then after she beat Venus, everybody wanted her autograph, which is great, but just shows how well-known she is. And with that, now come all the expectations.”

Austin can relate.

She turned pro at age 15 in October 1978 and won her first professional singles title that month.

A year later, at 16, she reached the semifinals at Wimbledon, then beat Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert along the way to becoming the youngest US Open champion in history. She won that major championship again two years later.

“I just really hope that she has solid people around her, meaning her parents — they seem amazing — and coaches, agents, that make sure she just goes slow enough. You don’t need to grab everything. Make sure she has time to just be a kid. Carve out enough time for her to be a kid,” said Austin, who at 29 became International Tennis Hall of Fame’s youngest inductee.

“You can’t do all the endorsements. You’ve got to pick certain ones. First and foremost, she’s a tennis player who is coming into her own. And I hope the media, because she’s had great success here, doesn’t push her too fast and expect too much, too soon,” Austin said. “She’s still developing. She’s got 15 years ahead of her, if she wants. Maybe 20 years.”


Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

Updated 18 November 2019

Saudi bowlers off to QubicaAMF World Cup

  • First woman from the Kingdom to compete in the championship in Indonesia

JEDDAH: Saudi Arabia is sending its first woman to compete in the 55th QubicaAMF Bowling World Cup that begins in Indonesia.

Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.

Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating in the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating in the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The men’s competition started Sunday at 9 p.m.

The women’s competition will begin at 3 p.m. today, where Mashael will take part in six rounds. The competition will run until Nov. 24.

HIGHLIGHT

  • Mashael Alabdulwahid will join her male teammate Abdulrahman Al-Khilaiwi, under the supervision of coach, Mario Joseph, to take part in the contest in Palembang.
  • Both players underwent training at a camp in Riyadh to prepare for the event. The training program included participating at the Asian Championship in Kuwait for Abdulrahman, and participating at the GCC 6th women’s bowling tournament for Mashael.

The competition continues on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and after completing 24 rounds, the top 24 players will be selected to compete for the top eight positions by playing eight runs on Friday. On Saturday, the best four female players and four male players will be chosen to compete in the finals.

Abdulrahman said that he is looking forward to the world cup. “This year there is a new advantage and that is having teammate Mashael joining me for the first time. I’m proud of her! It’s a big thing for Saudi women and for us in the team because this world exposure will help them to learn and give them an incentive to develop their skills,” he said.

The 20-year-old player has been bowling for the past 10 years. Despite his young age, thanks to his perseverance and sense of discipline he managed to win many victories, but the most distinguished were those in 2018. He delivered the bronze medal at the World Cup in Detroit, and two bronzes at the Asian Bowling Championship in the Philippines in the same year, and a gold medal for the trio event at the Arab Bowling Championship in Oman.

Mashael, 32, was only able to play officially last year in February 2018 when the Saudi Bowling Federation (SBF) received the decree to allow women to play in sports. However, she has been playing for fun since early childhood when she used to travel to Egypt with her family and where she managed to learn from the professionals and get hooked on the game. Mashael was chosen to take part in the Egypt Arab Championship and World Bowling Women’s Championship in Las Vegas in August 2018.

Mashael said: “Playing for fun is definitely enjoyable but when you wear your country’s flag that’s a huge responsibility put on your shoulder. You become an ambassador and a role model and when I’m put in that situation, I definitely want to give my all to be fit for that honor, and give the best image worthy of our beloved country.”

The bowlers expressed their gratitude to the Saudi Bowling Federation and its president Bader bin Abdullah Al-Alsheikh for his support and for creating opportunities for them so that they can progress, enrich their experiences and win awards and achievements.