POWDER SPRINGS, Ga. — Atlanta's very own Coco Gauff is poised to make history on Saturday, as she competes in the U.S. Open final, cementing her status as one of the youngest players to reach this milestone since Serena Williams in 1999.
Gauff's former coach, Jewel Peterson, spoke about the 19-year-old's incredible journey and what it means for the next generation of tennis players. Peterson's passion for tennis has deep roots and she considers it a family tradition.
"When I tell you I love coaching, I absolutely love it," Peterson said smiling. "When I'm having a really bad day, I get out on the court, and all of a sudden, I'm excited about life again."
Peterson's love for the sport began at a young age, thanks to her father's guidance.
"My dad taught me at a very early age. I started playing when I was four years old and loved it from the start," she recalled.
Today, she channels that passion into coaching the next generation of players and one former pupil holds a special place in her heart.
"When people ask me about coaching Coco, I tell them it was a coach's dream," Peterson said.
Gauff, an Atlanta native, is set to play in her first U.S. Open final this Saturday.
"I'm going to be watching. And I'm going to have a front row in front of my TV. Okay, I know. I am super excited to watch her play," Peterson exclaimed.
Gauff's journey at the U.S. Open has been remarkable and she is now one of four Black players to reach the quarterfinals at this prestigious tournament. This achievement highlights her exceptional talent and the growing diversity in tennis.
However, Gauff isn't the only Georgia tennis pro that Peterson knows and has coached. She mentioned another rising star, Chris Eubanks, who grew up in her father's academy.
"Chris grew up in my dad's academy, and my father was one of Chris' early coaches. To have been a part of that, it's extraordinary," Peterson said.
Reflecting on the changing landscape of tennis, Peterson emphasized that moments like these were once considered rare. However, she hopes that this trend continues for Gauff, Eubanks, and the young athletes who will follow in their footsteps.
"I think it's so, so, so impactful. I know now that so many players are being inspired by their success," she added.
Peterson expressed her confidence in Gauff's abilities and believes that she can clinch victory in the U.S. Open final as long as she maintains a resilient mindset and executes her strategy effectively.
As the world eagerly anticipates Gauff's historic appearance in the finals, her journey serves as a source of inspiration for tennis enthusiasts and aspiring athletes alike.