Yakoff does ceremonial coin toss at US Open
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!”