FLUSHING, N.Y. - While most Duke freshmen are adjusting and settling into their college routines, women’s tennis freshmen Kelly Chen will be playing alongside some of the biggest names in tennis. Chen will be traveling to New York this week to play in the US Open Juniors tournament, which starts on Monday.
Chen has had a whirlwind month. She earned the trip to New York when she reached the finals of the USTA Girls 18s National Championships last month in San Diego, Calif. Although Chen lost in that final, she received a wild card entry into the qualifying draw of the main US Open as well as a wild card into the main draw of the US Open Juniors tournament.
Chen traveled to New York during the last week of August for the US Open qualifying tournament. There, she was drawn against the top seed in the first round. After splitting the first two sets, the third set ended in an exhilarating tiebreaker with Chen on the losing side. Although she did not reach the main draw of the US Open, qualifying was a great learning experience for Chen.
“The difference in playing with the pros is that they’re more consistent. They play a bigger game,” Chen said. “For me, I need to set my game up to be a little more consistent. Overall, I think it was a great learning experience for me, transitioning from playing juniors to playing against pros.”
The week between the qualifying tournament and the juniors tournament gave Chen a chance to move into her new home on Duke’s campus as well as start her classes and meet with her new teammates.
“I’ve started to adjust to school and juggling it with tennis,” Chen said. “I’ve also started playing with the team here. They’ve been really supportive. They have really good energy. It’s been a really great atmosphere so far.”
Chen will return to New York as one of 64 players in the US Open Juniors. Chen will once again be playing on the same courts as many of the top players in the world as the main US Open is currently in its second week of play.
“I really like playing there (Arthur Ashe stadium),” Chen said. “I really like playing with the crowd. It always gets me pumped up.”
Chen is drawn against Monica Cappelletti of Italy in Monday’s first round. The pair will be the third match of the day on court four, with play starting at 11:00 am on the court. After her experiences in both the Girls’ 18s and the US Open qualifying, Chen has built confidence going into tomorrow’s juniors tournament.
“Now I know what I need to improve on,” she said. “When I played the number one seed, she exposed a lot of my weaknesses so now I know what to work on to get ready to be more solid when I go to juniors.”