By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
Minutes before the WTA doubles field was finalized last Sunday, MDE Chairman Mark Ein received a phone call. Rising teens Coco Gauff and Caty McNally, he was told, wanted to play together as a wild card in the main draw.
“It was pretty much a last-minute thing,” McNally said.
It’s a good thing Ein answered.
Not only were Gauff and McNally granted entry into the doubles draw as a team, but the Americans took full advantage. Saturday evening, before a standing-room only crowd on John Harris Court, Gauff and McNally were crowned Citi Open doubles champions.
“Pretty much everything was surreal,” McNally said of her week, which also included a semifinal run in singles.
“I went into this tournament with zero expectations. So, just how I did result-wise was surreal. And then the support- every time we walked out on court, it was packed stands with so much support. It means a lot.”
Gauff and McNally held off the No.4 seeds Maria Sanchez and Fanny Stollar 6-2, 6-2 in the women’s final. The win secured the first WTA Tour level title for both teens.
“For both of us, it means a lot,” Gauff said. “Obviously, we want to do well in singles but I think we just love competing in general. So, whether it’s singles or doubles, we want to win no matter what.”
As partners, Gauff, 15, and McNally, 17, don’t know anything but winning. In Washington this week, the teenagers didn’t drop a single set.
They entered the Citi Open having only played together once before – at the U.S. Open last fall, where they were crowned Girls’ Doubles champions.
The teens affectionately known now as ‘McCoco’ already confirmed they’ll reunite later this month in New York, where they’ve been granted a wild card for this year’s U.S. Open.
So, can they continue their run of perfection?
“I honestly believe we can,” said Gauff, who became an international sensation last month with her improbable run at Wimbledon.
“I believe we can do whatever we point our minds to. I think our goal is to win it. We’re not going to expect anything- we’re just going to expect to play our best… The way we’re playing, I believe we can go as far as we want.”