Pro Coco Vandeweghe wins her second tennis event in two weeks
By Bill Knight, El Paso Times, Texas
Jun. 14--EL PASO -- Ryoko Fuda cruised almost effortlessly into the $25,000 Hunt Communities Women's Pro Tennis Classic finals, moving her opponents around the court, dictating each and every point, never losing a set.
Coco Vandeweghe was not interested in taking dictation.
Vandeweghe pushed Fuda deep with her power game, never letting her dictate anything on a pleasant, sunny Sunday morning at Tennis West Sports & Racquet Club, taking the tournament championship 6-2, 6-1 over the top-seeded Fuda.
"She wasn't easy at all," Vandeweghe said after her second tournament win in a row. "It was a credit to her that she kept fighting throughout the match. I hit a heavier ball and was able to drive her back. If I didn't keep it deep, she started dictating points. When I did, I took care of those balls."
Fuda, the 23-year-old from Japan who is ranked 182nd in the world, said, "She played really good from the first to the end -- especially her serve. She made it very difficult for me to play. I tried to find a way to win. I just couldn't."
Vandeweghe, the 18-year-old from Southern California, opened the match by breaking Fuda's serve and simply never let her settle in. Vandeweghe pounced on a short second serve, ripping a forehand winner cross court to break Fuda again, taking a 4-1 lead. She threw in a big, powerful ace on set point, taking the set with an exclamation point, 6-2.
There was one moment, really, in this match when Fuda looked as if she were about to settle in and start dictating points again. Vandeweghe had raced away to a 4-0 lead in the second set but Fuda held serve, running her opponent from side to side with pinpoint placement forehands. She held, making it 4-1 and then got a break point on Vandeweghe and everyone thought she might -- just might -- fight and dictate her way back into this match.
Vandeweghe tossed in another booming serve to stare down break point, hit a powerful forehand to hold serve and she was up 5-1. Moments later it was game, set, match.
"That was a tough point there at 4-1," Vandeweghe said, who came into this week ranked 310 in the world. "Like I said, when I stopped hitting deep, she started dictating points."
That, though, was but for the briefest of moments. Vandeweghe took this match by the throat, shook it and made it hers. She would not let go.
As Fuda told the crowd afterward, "She played well and there was nothing I could do about it."
Vandeweghe, who trains at the National Training Center in Boca Raton, Fla., had her coach, Tom Gullickson, with her all week. Gullickson, of course, is a former tour player and a former Davis Cup coach. Vandeweghe won her last tournament, a $50,000 event in Carson, Calif., and said earlier "it would be nice" to win two in a row.
Sunday was nice.
Fuda, who came to El Paso from Paris after losing a three-set match in the qualifying rounds of the French Open, shrugged and said, "I have to find a way to play this type of opponent ... find a way to win against this type of opponent. But I had a good week and I hope to keep it going."
The two will get a week off, resting a bit and training a lot, before moving on to a $50,000 event in Boston. Who knows? Perhaps they will have a date there. Both are playing well.
Both played well in El Paso. But, on this sunny Sunday morning, Vandeweghe did the dictating.
Bill Knight may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org