Yakoff does cer­e­mo­nial coin toss at US Open

201 Family - - BULLETIN BOARD -

Fort Lee res­i­dent Stephanie Yakoff, 11, was cho­sen by the United States Ten­nis As­so­ci­a­tion to do the coin flip for the 2016 US Open women’s sin­g­less fi­nals. She’s pic­tured with the par­tic­i­pants, An­gelique Ker­ber, left,, and Karolina Pliskova, at Arthur Ashe Sta­dium in Queens, where Yakoff trains. She is the top ranked player in the USTA’s Eastern sec­tion 12-and-un­der divi­sion.

Yakoff found out she would do the coin toss while com­pet­ing in a tour­na­ment in Ge­or­gia, but didn’t re­al­ize it was a big deal. She was much more ex­cited about her up­com­ing 11th birth­day. It wasn’t un­til her fam­ily re­ceived their tick­ets that it hit her. “My 25-year-old brother Stan, who also plays ten­nis and goes to the US Open ev­ery year, looked at the tick­ets and said that he never ever had seats like that and that it is an honor to do the coin toss at the US open, more so for the women’s fi­nal,” Yakoff says. “Only at that mo­ment did we all re­al­ize what that meant.”

She watched coin toss cer­e­monies on YouTube to pre­pare and was a lit­tle ner­vous think­ing about the thou­sands of peo­ple watch­ing. “My mother told me the night be­fore, ‘St­effi, don’t be ner­vous. Just be your­self. You worked hard like all the other girls and bboys who play sports and go to school. A lot of kids will be watch­ing that fi­nal and would start play­ing ten­nis too.’”

She re­minded Yakoff that she trains there so of­ten sso the sta­dium is re­ally her sec­ond home. When it came time to do the toss, she was fine. “Stand­ing there next to An­gelique Ker­ber and Karolina Pliskova and shak­ing their hands was a dream come true for me. I was so proud. I wasn’t ner­vous any­more,” Yakoff says.

As she con­tin­ues her ca­reer with her ded­i­cated team in Queens, Yakoff knows that was a mem­ory that she will al­ways trea­sure. “I was the luck­i­est girl in the whole en­tire world!”

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