With Roland-Garros triumphs, Jason Tseng and Coco Gauff prove they are two of a kind
It took until the very last moment to see Coco Gauff finally act her age.
The young American put away an easy last volley, realized she had won, threw her racket in the air and fell down to the ground, literally floored by emotion, with the touching ingenuousness of a 14-year-old.
If you believe age is just a number, then why should it matter more than just that? • Congratulations to @cocogauff on winning the 2018 Girls' @rolandgarros title! ???? (????: @photoginie / @antoinecouvercelle) • • • #MouratoglouTennisAcademy #Mouratoglou #TennisAcademy #RG18 #RolandGarros #Juniors #ITF #JasonTseng #CocoGauff #CoriGauff #Gauff #TennisLove #TennisLife #TennisDay #TennisWorld #TennisTime #TennisJuniors #Sports #InstaSports #Paris #France #????
Throughout the week, match after match and win after win, the youngest entrant in the 64-player draw looked like she had been here for years. She passed all tests with flying colors, upsetting higher seeds (including #2 Xinyu Wang) and upholding her No. 16 position against unseeded opponents.
Coco didn’t drop a set until the final, where she found herself trailing 16-year-old fellow American Caty McNally 6-1, 2-0 after 32 minutes. Out of anger, with the looming prospect of another Grand Slam final loss after the 2017 US Open, she shouted: “I don’t know how to play tennis!” before undertaking to demonstrate the contrary. Suddenly finding back her swift-moving game, she turned a so far lopsided final into a tussle, and right when the tension started peaking, she played a near-perfect third set tiebreak to claim a 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(1) back-from-the-brink win.
Less then three months after celebrating her 14th birthday, she can bask in the glory of a Girls’ Roland-Garros title, a trophy no other 14-year-old-or-less had hoisted since a 12-year-old Martina Hingis in 1993 — eleven years before Coco was born.
She’s the fifth youngest champion of all time — the youngest period of this century — and if her elite company is any indication of the future, her glistening nascent career might translate into Grand Slam silverware.
Coco Gauff is regularly advised by someone who knows what winning Grand Slams in seniors feels like: Serena Williams’ coach Patrick Mouratoglou, who sensed her potential and selected her at the age of 11 to integrate the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, where she now regularly comes to practice.
“The Mouratoglou Tennis Academy definitely helped me throughout my game – helped me with spin and to be more consistent and learn how to play on red clay,” she said in an interview for TENNIS.com.
It was “one of those days you only dream of” for the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy with Chun Hsin ‘Jason’ Tseng — another player from the Academy — getting the win in the Boys’ tournament a few hours before Coco on Saturday.
The No. 4 seed from Chinese Taipei didn’t lose a set all tournament, getting a notable straight sets win in the semifinals (6-2, 7-5) against No. 2 seed Sebastian Korda, who had defeated him in the final for the 2018 Boys’ Australian Open title.
In the final, he took down world No. 1 Sebastian Baez 7-6(5) 6-2, amusingly ending his match the same way as Coco — with an easy volley.
Jason Tseng set the tone for his Roland-Garros win a month ago in Hue, Vietnam when he became the first player born in 2001 to clinch an ITF Futures title.
Tseng announced himself on the big stage in 2015 when he won Les Petits As, the world's leading tournament for players aged under 14.
Like Gauff, he’s been part of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy for three years, and returned there to train right after his final in Melbourne.
Both players were shaped by Kerei Abakar, the director of high level of the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, who certainly deserves a lot of credit here.
Over the last four Grand Slam events, Mouratoglou players competed in the final a staggering five times, and they have now gone back-to-back in the Boys’ Roland-Garros tournament with Alexei Popyrin claiming the win last year.
Five finals (including three ????) over the last five junior Grand Slams.— Mouratoglou Tennis Academy (@MouratoglouAcad) June 11, 2018
Back-to-back Boys' @rolandgarros titles (2017 & 2018).
A historic double this year at #RG18.
We're shaping champions. pic.twitter.com/nqczXprPCB
At Roland-Garros, Coco Gauff and Jason Tseng proved they were two of a kind; they proved that in addition to a training base, they had an ever-brighter future in common.
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