Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally are WTA Champions. The former is 15 years old, the latter is 17.

None of the above is a typo.

Playing in their first ever WTA doubles event together Gauff and McNally assembled a fairytale run throughout the 2019 Citi Open. They entered the tournament as a Wild Card, riding off of the success of Gauff’s incredible run at Wimbledon weeks prior. Neither of them had won a main draw doubles match at the WTA level before.

Neither of that mattered or was on the mind of the duo in Washington D.C. this week. They oozed confidence and knew they were capable of competing for a championship.

“We didn’t go into the tournament seeing how far we can go. We went into the tournament with getting to the finals on our mind,” Gauff said earlier in the week. “I don’t really put expectations on us or myself in general, because I just feel like whatever happens, obviously, me and her know that we have the game to win.”

In four matches to the trophy Gauff and McNally rolled through their competition without dropping a single set. None of their sets were even particularly close. They knocked off two seeded duos including Maria Sanchez (world No. 68) and Fanny Stollar (No. 106) in the Final 6-2, 6-2.

Not once in the tournament did the two lack the mental fortitude, in fact, they probably had the most of the all the players. Even with McNally thriving in the singles draw, including on playing the day of the Final, there was no concern or doubt they were going to win.

“I think we just worried about ourselves every single match and our game plan,” McNally said to reporters after claiming the title. “We just executed it really well and that’s what the scores show.”

A pretty remarkable showing for the young American pair that had only played together once before and almost didn’t make the tournament. Up until five minutes before the doubles draw ceremony, they were not even considered. Then, tournament owner Mark Ein got “one of the best phone calls of his life” and without hesitation granted the two a spot into the field.

“I was actually thinking about playing with someone else and then once I knew that Coco was in, I decided to play with her,” McNally said. “We’re such a good doubles team, and we just have great chemistry.

McNally singles run will be overshadowed by this victory. Like in doubles, she entered the event as a Wild Card with no main draw wins to her name. She made it all the way to the semifinals.

While this is the first title for the two as professionals, it is not the first time they’ve played. It was only once before that they decided to partner up, at the Junior U.S. Open. There, they were also crowned champions.

Needless to say, as they are both under 18 years of age, the future is extremely bright for the Americans. With all instant success they’ve had and no losses as a doubles team, they will enter the U.S. Open doubles draw together. And the two are not shying away about what they are capable of.

“I honestly believe that we can [win]. We can do whatever we want when we put our minds to it,” Gauff said unwaveringly. “I think to be honest the way we’re playing we can go as far as we want.”

As for now, McNally is just going to catch up on sleep. She played eight matches in six days.

Source: Tyler Byrum

www.sports24ghana.com

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