By: David DiPino Contributing Writer
Delray Beach is home to the Delray Beach Open, Delray Tennis Center and in between Delray Beach and Boca Raton are some of the best hard-court and clay court tennis venues in the country.
Now, two Delray Beach residents have served up some of the best tennis ever as this year’s finalists at the U.S. Open, America’s oldest tennis tournament.
The global tennis sphere shined brightly recently on the best career play of men’s pro ATP tennis player Kevin Anderson and 13-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff. Anderson is ranked No. 15 in the world according to the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) 250 and Gauff, is the No. 67 ranked girls player in the world according to the International Tennis Federation (ITF).
In the men’s singles draw at the U.S. Open, Anderson defeated former Delray Beach Open winner Ernest Gulbis, Borna Ćorić, of Croatia, then, at Louis Armstrong Stadium outplayed Paolo Lorenzi of Italy, American Sam Querrey during the Quarterfinals, Pablo Carreño Busta, Spain, in the Semi-Final before taking runner-up to No. 1 seed Rafael Nadal, Spain, 3-6, 3-6, 4-6, at Arthur Ashe Stadium.
“I’ve always enjoyed playing on the courts (hard court) it fits my game well. Outdoors and warm weather are two conditions I enjoy playing in,” Anderson said.
Anderson has enjoyed success in the past at his home tournament, The Delray Beach Open, an ATP 250 Men’s pro tennis event where he won the championship in 2012. The Delray Beach Open is held each February (this February – Feb. 16-25, 2018) at the Delray Tennis Center, 201 W. Atlantic Ave.
While Anderson’s home is listed as Gulf Stream, he’s known as a Delray Beach resident because he and wife Kelsey O’Neal are regulars up and down Atlantic Avenue when not busy with Anderson’s tour schedule (they did live in Delray Beach for two years prior to moving to neighboring Gulf Stream). According to the entertainment website, EarnTheNecklace®, O’Neal played golf collegiately and worked at Ernst & Young as an accountant for three years before joining her husband full-time on tour.
At the U.S. Open held Sept. 3-10, 2017 in New York, NY, Gauff moved swiftly through the US Open Junior Tennis Championships draw winning 10 games over five matches before placing runner-up to champion Amanda Anisimova 0-6, 2-6. In the Main Doubles draw of the U.S. Open ATP Women’s pro tennis event, Gauff teamed with Abigail Forbes of Raleigh, NC, before falling in the round of 32 in an epic thriller match against Sofya Lansere of Moscow, Russia, and Kamilla Rakhimova, Ekaterinburg, Russia, 6-7(5), 7-6(4), [7-10].
“I think that my serve and my forehand we’re helping me through the whole tournament. My movement and my mentality and the way I strive carry myself is important because everything doesn’t go your way during a match thinking that way you can still stay focused. In tennis there is no shot clock so if you let something bother you it can become a problem and affect your play,” Gauff said.
“This year I’ve definitely done a lot of traveling. I’m not really tired. Later this year I’m going The Mouratoglou Tennis Academy located in Nice, France. I’m going there to work on the red clay aspect of my game. It’s a change because we don’t really have the red clay here. When I train in Delray Beach I’m at Pompey Park training with my Dad, Corey Gauff. I’m going to try and play the French Open Juniors next year. I played Wimbledon qualifiers this summer and it was my first time playing on grass. It’s really fun playing there. I like the US Open too and had a good run there. In January it’s my goal to play in the Australian Open Juniors.”
Gauff has dominated the junior tennis ranks locally and nationally. Since July 2017, Gauff has competed in the Junior Championships at Wimbledon, Great Britain, where she won four games and two matches on her way to a Q2 qualifying draw result, the Nike Junior International Roehampton singles where she defeated hometown favorite Esther Adeshina of great Britain, 6-1, 6-2, and to the “Sweet 16” Doubles quarterfinals of the tournament with Hurricane Tyra Black of Boca Raton. Gauff is coached by Gerard Loglo.
In August, Gauff started a string of back-to-back runner-up performances as she used her long 5’10’’ frame to stretch across the court, a dominant double-handed backhand and six-years of tennis experience to win five matches and ten games at the Prince George’s County International Hard Court Junior Tennis Championships at College Park, MD. Gauff defeated the best competitors in the tournament’s main draw from Italy, Russia, USA, Taipei before earning a runner-up finish 4-6, 4-6 against Jaimee Fourlis of Australia. Partnering with Charlotte Owensby of Boca Raton, Gauff teamed up win one match and advance to the quarterfinals of the tourney.