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Taylor Townsend Talks Pro Tennis, Bouchard Breakthrough

January 27, 2014 05:16 PM
A ranking outside the Top 150 on the WTA tour means you don't get into the top events, you don't receive the free hotel rooms or other gratuities, and as with currently No. 350-ranked Taylor Townsend, you don't even get a picture next to your bio on the WTA website.

But the 17-year-old American is set to change that after this month embarking on her first full year of play on the pro level, leaving behind the international junior circuit where she claimed the No. 1 ranking in the world.

Last week at the USTA Pro Circuit Daytona Beach $25,000 women's event in Florida, Townsend not only successfully navigated the qualifying to fight her way to the main draw (coming from a set down in the final round), but upended former No. 21-ranked Aleksandra Wozniak before losing to eventual tournament champion and No. 1 seed Anna Tatishvili in the quarterfinals.

Townsend spoke with USTA Florida about making the jump from juniors to the pros, and the recent Australian Open experience of her friend Eugenie Bouchard:

USTA Florida: Why did you play the Daytona Beach event rather than making the trip to Australia?
Taylor Townsend: "I'm done playing junior [Slams], and my ranking wasn't high enough for me to get into the qualies of the [Australian Open] main tournament."

USTA Florida: What was it like playing against an almost-Top 20-ranked player like Wozniak in those unseasonably cold conditions?
Townsend: "The conditions were tough but I was trying not to focus on it really. I knew it was going to be a tough match and she had a lot of WTA experience, so I was just trying to be as focused as I could and worrying about myself."

USTA Florida: What were the keys in your quarterfinal match against the No. 1-seeded Tatishvili?
Townsend: "We were battling the whole time, from point one we were battling. There were just a couple of points here or there in the first set that made a big difference, and in the second I think she was just a little bit more patient than I was. It was a little frustrating but I can't complain, I think it was a really good match overall...
.I was really happy about my results, I think it was a great tournament and I learned a lot."

USTA Florida: You participated in the Kids' Day event during the tournament?
Townsend: "It was nice, the tournament had an event for the kids and they were doing some 10 and Under Tennis stuff and I stayed around to hit some with the kids, it was fun, I always enjoy doing things like that."

USTA Florida: Tell us about your relationship with Eugenie Bouchard, you two have some history together?
Townsend: "We're good friends actually, we starting playing together at Wimbledon [2012 juniors] and we did really good in the doubles together [winning the championship]. I'm looking forward to playing some more with her, we both said that we wanted to play again with each other."

USTA Florida: How did you two meet?
Townsend: "We just met out of the blue, I saw that she was playing some of the [junior] Slams, and the player I usually played with, Gabby Andrews, wasn't going to Europe, and Genie was, so I asked her 'Do you want to play at Wimbledon and see how it goes?' She agreed, and that was it."

USTA Florida: She has made the transition from juniors to the pros really quickly, what did you think of her breakthrough at the Australian Open over the last couple weeks?
Townsend: "I am really happy for her, I'm really happy for her. She's a really hard worker and I see her intensity, she took advantage of the opportunities there that were ahead of her and she played like a champion. I'm really happy for her, I couldn't be happier. And I texted her and told her that, I gave her some really nice words. She deserves it."

USTA Florida: Now that you're concentrating strictly on the pro level, what are some of the things you are working on?
Townsend: "I've been trying to work on my game, my strengths and weaknesses, making my strengths stronger and my weaknesses just as good as my strengths. Just trying to make myself solid because all the women on the tour are so solid, they don't make mistakes and they don't give you any points. Just trying to cut down on errors and things like that, and I think that once I solidify that my game will just take off."

USTA Florida: What are your tournament plans for the coming months?
Townsend: "I want to play Midland [USTA Pro Circuit event], then I want to play a couple Pro Circuit events, and hopefully I can get a wildcard into Indian Wells [WTA tour event] and then go from there. I'm looking forward to the Pro Circuit and getting a lot of matches, and getting my ranking up so that I can start getting into the WTA events."






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