Team ‘McCoco’ Takes a Turn in the Spotlight

Team ‘McCoco’ Takes a Turn in the Spotlight


A day after her loss in singles, Coco Gauff was back in a packed stadium playing doubles with her close friend Caty McNally.


CreditCredit(Kevin Hagen / Associated Press)

Kurt Streeter

It would have been understandable if Coco Gauff had come out flat, deflated bya loss the previous eveningon tennis’s biggest court – a match memorable less for the thumping final score than for Gauff’s tears and the comfort she received from her opponent, top- ranked Naomi Osaka.

But nothing is normal about Gauff, the preternatural teenager who has held sway over the United States Open, just as she did at Wimbledon in July.

On a warm Sunday afternoon at Louis Armstrong Stadium, Gauff once again held court. This time, though, it was a doubles match. Gauff, 15, and her partner, 17 – year -old Caty McNally, who is deeply talented and full of promise in her own right, faced the veteran ninth-seeded tandem of Nicole Melichar and Kveta Peschke.

Instead of looking pressured and uncertain in the way she did against Osaka, Gauff looked crisp and clear, buoyed by the confidence of playing alongside a longtime friend.

The young duo was the better pair from the jump. Just as they had been in Washington – where, in August, theywon a tour eventin their first tournament together as professionals – Gauff and McNally played like they owned the joint. They flashed few nerves, little fear, and plenty of heavy aggression. If they felt like underdogs in any way, they did not show it.

An early break of service led to the first set being over in 27 minutes. The second stanza was a tightrope walk, and the pair was forced to save three set points, but through it all they played the more attacking style deep into a tiebreaker to seal a 6-3, 7-6 (9) victory.

They leapt and bumped shoulders, embraced and pranced to the net in delight.

As they did, the crowd of 14, 00 0, packed to the standing room rafters at Armstrong, rose and unleashed a thundering ovation. “Coco, Coco, Coco !,” many of them could be heard shouting. “Coco, we want more!”

“I couldn’t see an empty seat,” Gauff said when the match was done, noting with a youthful look of awe that she’d somehow been surprised by the immense crowd size and passionate support. “I think that definitely helped us, especially when the pressure moments came.”

Both players basked in the love. After shaking hands with their opponents, they stayed for a long stretch to sign autographs. In an on-court interview, they also reminded fans that they’re about more than just one talent. “Team McCoco,” they called themselves.

As a team, Gauff and McNally could even win this tournament. They are often led by the skillful net play and serving of McNally, who, playing in her first U.S. Open as a professional, was good enough totake the first set off Serena Williamsin a second-round match.

But when it comes to support, they are clearly girded by the way fans on these grounds, as across the world, have fallen for Gauff.

That there was a full house, in the tournament’s second-largest stadium, for a second-round women’s doubles match, only underscores the point.

Matches like this one – pitting an unseeded young tandem against veterans few outside of ardent tennis observers have ever heard of – are typically played on small courts at Grand Slam tournaments. There are usually just a few hundred fans on hand to watch.

Gauff and McNally, in fact, played their first-round match on one of those small courts , where fans on enem courts tried to catch a glimpse of them.

On Sunday, Gauff and McNally played before a bigger, more electric crowd than those at many Grand Slam doubles finals.

Cocomania lives.

“Today I came in with a little more pressure on myself than singles because I know I have someone else that I can’t let down,” Gauff said.

You wouldn’t know it. From the first point on, she looked far happier and far lighter on her feet than she had against Osaka. Asked about this after the match, she said there was really only one big difference between Saturday and Sunday.

“I just think the difference between yesterday and today is that today we won and yesterday I lost

Winning is indeed the best tonic, be it in singles or doubles.

The pair will face a tough test in the third round on Monday. In what will likely be the most anticipated match of the afternoon, played on the 8, 00 0-seat Grandstand court, they will meet eighth-seeded Ashleigh Barty and Victoria Azarenka, Grand Slam title winners in singles and doubles.

Gauff and McNally clearly will not be intimidated.

Kurt Streeter covers sports at The Times. He primarily writes features and essays, and has a particular interest in stories related to race, gender and social justice.

A version of this article appears in print on

, Section


, Page


of the New York edition

with the headline:

Getting a Lift From Her Teammate, Gauff Bounces Back.Order Reprints|Today’s Paper|Subscribe

Brave Browser

Read More

What do you think?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

GIPHY App Key not set. Please check settings

A US mail carrier nearing the end of her shift was among those killed in West Texas shooting

A US mail carrier nearing the end of her shift was among those killed in West Texas shooting

Did Kanye West Really Make Taylor Swift Famous?

Did Kanye West Really Make Taylor Swift Famous?