U.S. OPEN: From Hardest Moment, Sloane Stephens Rises on Biggest Stage

From my column at FoxSports.com

Sloane Stephens

Sloane Stephens tweets about her nails, about arguing with her brother, about debating with her mom over what kind of car to buy. Typical 18-year-old things. But Stephens, the American tennis hopeful, also loves to deliver short-order philosophies in 140 characters or less:

“Count your blessings, not your worries.’’

And: “Things fall apart so that other things can fall together.’’

Her little daily affirmations would make a Hallmark card writer proud.

But on Thursday night, after her breakthrough victory in the US Open — 6-1, 7-6 (7-4), over 23rd seed Shahar Peer — her words came straight from her heart:

“2 years without you here with me, I miss you dad! I know your always with me! You would have been so proud of me today! I love you.’’

The US Open is always going to be a conflicted place for Stephens.

She is the daughter of former New England Patriots running back John Stephens, who died in a car accident two years ago this week, days before his daughter would play at her first Open.

“I still think about that,’’ she said recently. “Like I say, I played on Court 11 when I came back from the funeral, and it was crazy. I don’t even know how I played.

“I woke up. I came back late at night. I woke up the next morning and played the second or third match on. It was crazy. Like the emotions and everything were crazy.’’

The story is deeper.
Please read the rest of the column here

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About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at FoxSports.com and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

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