Coleman Vision’s past stars have risen
U.S. Open champ Stephens was here; tourney begins today
Sloane Stephens was talking about Albuquerque last weekend at center court in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
No, the 24-year-old U.S. Open Champion’s gracious and emotional acceptance speech didn’t name the Duke City specifically. And there was no mention of Tanoan Country Club or of her being a past participant in the Coleman Vision Tennis Championship, which begins play today at Tanoan Country Club in its 20th anniversary event.
But after Stephens tore through the U.S. Open field for
her first major victory on Sept. 10, defeating fellow American Madison Keys 6-3, 6-0, she gave an acceptance speech that thanked her mother, Sybil Smith, for the years of guidance and sticking by her side through the years of grinding through the sports’ proving grounds.
“We’ve been on such a journey together,” Stephens said last week after the U.S. Open win. “My mom is incredible. I think parents don’t get enough credit. When I was 11 years old, my mom took me to a tennis academy. One of the directors there told my mom that I’d be lucky if I was a Division II player and I got a scholarship.
“I think any parent that ever supports their child — you could be me one day. So parents, never give up on your kids. If they want to do something, always encourage them.”
The long, steady climb to the world stage for Stephens started at age 9, included being told at 11 she’d likely not be good enough to play college tennis. It included working her way up from small events up to those much larger on the USTA’s Pro Circuit like in September 2010 when at the age of 17, she picked up a couple wins in Albuquerque to advance to the Coleman Vision quarterfinals.
That showing helped launch her onto an even bigger world stage and, last weekend, she became the first former Coleman Vision participant to win one of tennis’ majors.
Stephens, not to mention players like last weekend’s U.S. Open semifinalist Coco Vandeweghe (Coleman Vision 2009 and 2013), are among the latest poster children for the USTA’s Pro Circuit slogan of “Catch a Rising Star,” which has been used plenty through the years at Albuquerque’s $80,000 event.
This year, in its 20th anniversary with singles qualifying matches starting at 10 a.m. today, the Coleman Vision again has a stacked draw of rising stars and grinding veterans who have starred on the world stage.
Sofia Kenin, an 18-year-old from Florida, is ranked 112th in the world and made it to the round of 32 at the U.S. Open before falling to former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova. She’s scheduled to participate as the No. 2 seed, as is No. 1 seed Viktorija Golubic, a 24-year-old from Switzerland who is ranked No. 106 in the world.
Local rising stars have their go at making some noise, too.
Eldorado High sisters Carmen Corley and Ivana Corley, who each have won high school state singles titles, will compete in the doubles draw and each also will start play today in singles qualifying. So, too, will former La Cueva High School and college player Gabby Otero.
All three are among 32 trying to work their way through the qualifying draw to earn a spot in the 32-player main draw, which starts Tuesday. Doubles play, which the Corley sisters earned a wild card entry to participant in the field of 16 teams, also starts on Tuesday.
Past singles (2012) and doubles (2016) champion Maria Sanchez is also back in this year’s event.
The event, which benefits the New Mexico Youth Tennis Foundation, runs through next weekend with singles and doubles championship matches played Sept. 24. The singles champion wins $12,161 and the doubles winners share $4,460.
General admission is free each day and other ticket options are weekday box seats for $20 and VIP seating for $30. Tickets can be purchased on site or online at www.eventbrite.com (search Coleman Vision). Live streaming of center court matches is available on USTA.com.