Big “news” from the Citi Open and the Washington Tennis and Education Foundation will get fans in the area excited to see Coco Gauff at the joint WTA/ATP event, which begins July 29.
The 15-year-old from Florida made quite a splash at Wimbledon when she defeated Venus Williams in the first round.
Gauff made the second week before losing to eventual champion Simona Halep.
Except … it’s a fairly misleading bit of hype.
Gauff cannot accept any more wild cards this year, as she’s already used up her quota under the age eligibility rules.
In the small print, lies the actual situation.
It takes a bit of work to find it. It’s not even on the home page.
Way down the qualifying list
Gauff had entered the Citi Open qualifying on her own ranking, which now stands at No. 141 after her Wimbledon effort but was at No. 313 before Wimbledon.
That’s why she needed a wild card into the qualifying at Roehampton.
But this is not news to the tournament. The deadline for the D.C. qualifying was the first day of Wimbledon.
Obviously her circumstances have changed since then.
If you dig into the tournament’s website a little bit, you see what’s actually going on.
“Gauff is scheduled to host the Citi Open Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation on Sunday, July 28. If she does not earn a place in the qualifying tournament, she plans to practice on site and also participate in a fan event on Saturday, July 27, and compete in a practice match on Stadium Court on Sunday, July 28.”
The Citi Open qualifying draw is only 16, with 14 direct entries.
Gauff is currently … 20th in line to be next in. Okay, maybe 19th, as countrywoman Shelby Rogers got into the main draw on her protected ranking, and is in front of of Gauff on the qualifying list with her actual ranking.
So unless there’s a mass disappearance, she won’t make it.
Coco on display
You would imagine the tournament is paying her a promotional fee of some kind. Not that she really needs it; she’s had a good month, earning the equivalent of $222,000 US between singles and mixed doubles at Wimbledon.
And no doubt their intentions are honorable. But there’s just this little whiff of exploitation in the air on this one, of treating Gauff like a curiosity people can come and gawk at.
Or are we overthinking it?
— WUSA9 Sports (@WUSA9sports) July 19, 2019
Maybe they’re putting a little subtle pressure on the WTA to make an exception of some kind and let them give her a wild card – at least into the qualifying.
As we keep reminding everyone, she’s only 15. Gauff should be enjoying a bit of summer at home with her friends and family, processing everything that happened to her in London. And resting the body. Gauff faced a series of opponents that played at a much higher level than she’s accustomed to.
Here’s the quote from Mark Ein, who took over the Citi Open this year.
“Coco’s story is a perfect fit with the history and mission of our tournament and, as potentially the next great American star, she also embodies our future and our re-imagination of this storied tennis event … “Coco’s fairytale run at Wimbledon captured the hearts of fans worldwide and Washington DC cannot wait to host her first post-Wimbledon tennis appearance back in the United States at the Citi Open. We hope she gets into the qualifying but if not, we will provide our community and her fans a great opportunity to meet here and watch her play and practice as she prepares for the US Open.”
And here’s the official quote from Gauff:
“I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be in front of American fans in our nation’s capital at the Citi Open. The last few weeks have been amazing and I’m excited about coming to Washington, D.C. to connect with all the fans, especially the young kids, who have been giving me so much support this summer. Hopefully I will also have the opportunity to keep this momentum going on the court starting at the Citi Open straight through the US Open.”