Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula in sync with tennis, not TikTok

Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula were born ten years apart, which isn’t that big of a deal when it comes to playing tennis together, but definitely creates a barrier when it comes to TikTok.

“We don’t really notice the age difference until a certain conversation comes up,” Gauff said. “It’s definitely a generational gap.”

Pegula joked, “She keeps me young.”

Pegula, 28, is No. 3 in singles, Gauff, 18, is No. 4, and both Americans will debut in the WTA finals in both singles and doubles this week. No other doubles pair has also competed in singles at the season-ending best-of-the-best in women’s tennis since sisters Serena and Venus Williams did so in 2009 (Serena beat Venus in the singles final that year) .

Pegula, from New York and now based in Florida, has had a full day since the event kicked off on Monday at the Dickies Arena’s temporary indoor hard court. She lost to Maria Sakkari 7-6(6), 7-6(4) in singles, then teamed with Gauf of Florida in doubles where they lost 6-4, 4-6, 10-7 in the championship standings. The tie-break of the Chinese duo Xu Yifan and Yang Zhaoxuan ended Day 1 just after midnight. As the event uses a round robin format, Pegula and Gauff, who will make her singles debut against Caroline Garcia on Tuesday, are still in the competition.

After pairing briefly in 2021 with Gauff and Pegula leading 0-2, they really excelled in doubles in 2022 with three titles and a runner-up at the French Open in June. Gauff took first place in doubles in August and is currently in second place, one place ahead of Pegula.

The level of comfort with each other on the court and “irl” as the kids say – “in real life” for the uninformed – is much better than when Gauff brings social media slang into the discussion.

Especially if the links come from TikTok, the video sharing app.

“She will look at me and say: “What?!” I’m like, “You never saw that?” She’s like, “No,” Gauff explained.

“Then,” she added, “it gets awkward.”

Until Gauff pulls out her cell phone to demonstrate what she’s talking about, “and then it makes sense,” she said.

Pegula, whose last match was a victory over Sakkari in the final of the Guadalajara Open on October 23, called it “a reward and a boost in self-confidence” to be on fields open only to eight singles players and eight doubles teams. .

Gauff is the youngest American woman to have qualified for a WTA final since 1994, and considers the achievement “just a testament to my progress.”

“I burst onto the scene in a big way and a lot of people had opinions about whether I was good or not,” said Gauff, who made her Grand Slam debut by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon at age 15. “It just proves that all the work I put in is paying off. Obviously, I want to go further.”

They recently became the first two U.S. women to reach the top four in singles rankings at the same time since the Williams siblings in 2010.

“We learn from each other… and it always kind of pushes us to get better,” Pegula said. “It looks like it because our ratings just keep moving up at the same time.”

They know about the different characters in the match: Pegula is calmer, Gauff is more excitable.

And they believe that everyone can benefit by adopting even a hint of another’s way of thinking.

“She has really good energy. Many first pumps, jumps, her athleticism and youth in her. She giggles a lot. She laughs a lot. She is always idle,” said Pegula. “I think having that kind of energy, especially when we’re playing doubles, kind of taught me how to do it more in my singles, since I’m pretty relaxed.”

Ask how Gauff feels about Pegula, and among the words that come up are “serious”, “cold-blooded”, “humble”, “kind”.

However, there is something important to Gauff that is missing from her intelligence report on Pegula.

“She is not on TikTok at all. If you follow her on Instagram, she’s hardly there. I would say that Twitter is her most used platform and it is still underutilized,” Gauff said with a chuckle. “So maybe I can find her on TikTok eventually.”

With a hint of resignation, Gauff added, “I doubt it.”

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