Tennis: Rising US star draws ASB wildcard

By Michael Brown

Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who's had a year of big wins, may get the last wildcard. Photo / Getty Images
Canadian Eugenie Bouchard, who's had a year of big wins, may get the last wildcard. Photo / Getty Images

Her grandmother was a former Miss America, her mother went to two Olympics, her grandfather played basketball for the New York Knicks and her uncle is general manager of the Denver Nuggets. Now Coco Vandeweghe is trying to make a name for herself.

The 21-year-old has been handed a wildcard to next week's ASB Classic tennis tournament and has been nominated with Christina McHale, also playing in Auckland seeded 7th, as the future of American tennis. Serena and Venus Williams, of course, are the sport's present leaders but Vandeweghe is more than just a difficult name to spell.

She has a big serve - once clocked at 203km/h, not far behind Sabine Lisicki's 210km/h record - and backs that up with a solid net game and aggressive groundstrokes.

She is ranked 97 in the world but was as high as 69 this year after playing in her first WTA final, where she was beaten by Serena Williams.

"I was looking for someone who can offer something different to the tournament and also wanted someone we could build a relationship with and try to get back in the future," said the ASB Classic tournament director, Karl Budge.

"Coco is someone who has been identified as the next wave of talent coming through the US system so we wanted to start making sure she's pretty comfortable in Auckland and reward her for coming last year."

Vandeweghe replaces former world No 2 Vera Zvonareva, who last week pulled out of the tournament injured after being handed a wildcard.

Budge probably has one more wildcard to allocate - the first went to former two-time champion Eleni Daniilidou - and is leaning towards Canadian up-and-comer Eugenie Bouchard, who won both the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior titles this year. Another option is surprise 2011 champion Greta Arn.

"It's a bit of a call of going with someone who has been here and won the tournament but is in the twilight of her career versus someone who is probably the most exciting prospect on the women's tour at the moment," Budge said. "She's got a huge game. There are a lot of people saying a lot of great things about Eugenie and she's someone we want to invest in."

Arn believes she deserves the wildcard as a former champion and shouldn't have to qualify, but the Hungarian has slipped to 115 in the rankings after suffering deep vein thrombosis during the year.

- APNZ

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