Katrina Scott: An American Teen Makes A Name For Herself

Katrina Scott (photo: Rhea Nall/USTA)

WASHINGTON, September 4, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Making a Grand Slam debut is always an exciting if not nerve-racking experience. Just ask Katrina Scott, an American 16-year-old wild card playing in her first US Open main draw. She got the wild card after other players withdrew because of coronavirus concerns related to the health and safety of travel and playing in New York.

Thursday afternoon on Louis Armstrong Stadium, Scott took the opening set 6-4 from 19-year-old American Amanda Anisimova, seeded 22nd, showing the kid’s got game. Heck, the 28th-ranked Anisimova’s a kid, too, and she’s got pretty good game to back up her current world ranking.

The backstory to Scott taking up tennis is both fascinating and poignant. It began with her mother Lena, who grew up as a ballet dancer in Iran before emigrating to the United States at age 17 with her mother, who was seeking treatment for breast cancer. Then, after Katrina tried but didn’t take to ballet at age 3 and later gave figure skating a go, she became interested in tennis and got to be pretty good at it at a young age. Finally, she had discovered a sport she was truly interested in.

“Once I want something I work as hard as I can to get it, and do anything possible to get it,” Scott told Ben Rothenberg of The New York Times in a recent interview. “Anything in life, I’m super competitive in all aspects of life. Even off the court, I always want to win.”

While the 637th-ranked Scott held her ground pretty good until 4-4 in the second set against Anisimova, the French Open semifinalist used her big-match experience to her advantage. She took over and controlled the match against Scott to its conclusion. Anisimova finishing with 34 winners and advanced with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-1 victory in one hour and 56 minutes. It set up a third-round match for Anisimova against Maria Sakkari of Greece on Saturday.

New York Times tennis correspondent Christopher Clarey was impressed. He wrote on Twitter: “Impressive platform for Scott to build on with big serve, defensive skills and baseline power. One to watch.”

Scott reached the second round by winning her US Open debut over No. 131 Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on Tuesday. With her match split, Scott’s ranking has improved to No. 558.

Anisimova gave props to Scott during her on-court post-match interview. “She was playing amazing – not that I was having a bad day. I’m extremely happy, not just with my win, but how I came back.”

Later, during her virtual press conference, Anisimova continued her praise for Scott:

“I’m very surprised with how she was playing. I’m sure that she has a really bright future ahead of her. She was serving so big, just playing very well. Yeah, I was very impressed with her game.”

Perhaps, the biggest takeaway from this all-American second-round match is this: The future of U.S. women’s tennis certainly looks good.

Osaka video chatting with her mom, win-win for all

After fourth seed Naomi Osaka‘s 6-1, 6-2 victory over Camila Giorgi on Arthur Ashe Stadium Wednesday evening, which advanced her into Friday’s third round against No. 137 Marta Kostyuk, the World No. 10 was surprised with a Zoom call from her mother in Florida that was shown on a giant court-side video monitor and broadcast worldwide. Mrs. Osaka held up a poster filled with emoji that a somewhat embarrassed Naomi later deciphered in an interview with ESPN presenter Chris McKendry.

“She’s saying, the first one is, ‘Good job,’ and then the second one is, ‘Don’t do Instagram and Twitter and instead go to sleep. And then the third one is, ‘Drink green juice and get some rest,’ and then the fourth one is, ‘I love you,'” said Osaka, who took it all in good stride.

Later, during her virtual press conference, Osaka was asked if she knew her mother was going to call or did it catch her totally by surprise.

Yeah, for me, I wasn’t expecting it to happen. It was a surprise,” said Osaka. “Apparently my sister told my mom to do it. But definitely wasn’t expecting it. It was a bit odd because I remember I was watching [Karolina] Muchova playing Venus [Williams] yesterday, and then I saw that she got a call, I don’t know if it’s a call or a FaceTime, from Rebel Wilson. I was like, Oh, that’s kind of cool.

“Yeah, definitely wasn’t expecting my mom to call today.”

Later, Osaka said she rarely socializes with anyone while she’s hanging out in her private suite inside Arthur Ashe Stadium – except Stefanos Tsitsipas because “he’s sort of like my neighbor. …

“We’re all sort of in our separate bubble doing our own things. For me, I don’t know, I’m just very focused on the goals that I have right now. I stopped kind of paying attention to everybody, which is probably bad, but …”

Osaka was asked if the Black Lives Matter t-shirt Tsitsipas wore on Wednesday was a gift from her. “He didn’t get it from me. But I’m super proud of him,” she said. “I’m very glad that his first response when everything started happening was to ask me questions. For me, I feel like I like to get knowledge. For him to do the same thing, start branching out and asking questions on topics he’s not so sure of, is very mature and intelligent. Yeah, super glad he did that.”

Happy 27th Birthday, Dominic Thiem

What they’re writing

It’s just the first week of the US Open, but according to Simon Cambers, writing for Tennis Majors, there have been rumblings of discontent about protocols and restrictions. Learn more in: “The US Open ‘bubble’ may not be perfect, but it’s there for a reason.”

The Stat – American teenage breakout stars

What happens when the seeds start losing?

What they’re saying

The last word

Jannik Sinner, who lost in the first round to 11th seed Karen Khachanov 3-6, 6-7 (7), 6-2, 6-0, 7-6 (4), in three hours and 44 minutes on Tuesday, said on his Instagram platform, “Tennis doesn’t always go your way, but I’ll never stop fighting. See you next year US Open.”


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Tennis doesn’t always go your way, but I’ll never stop fighting. See you next year @usopen 🙏🏼💪🏼

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