CiCi Bellis, who rose to fame after she upset the No. 12 seed, Dominika Cibulkova, in the first round at the 2014 US Open, made a stop in Philadelphia before heading to Europe for the French Open later this month.
The 16-year-old trained for 10 days with her coach, Tom Gutteridge, in Bala Cynwyd, Pa.
We got the chance to sit down with her and ask her a few questions about tennis, her expectations for this summer and life in general.
MS: What made you choose to train in Philadelphia?
CB: Because of my coach, Tom. We met last year and have been working together for about nine or ten months now. We decided that it made sense to train in Philadelphia for 10 days before flying to Europe. I live in California, so it breaks up the trip and I get the opportunity to train here with a bunch of really good players.
MS: What are your expectations for the French Open?
CB: It’s going to be pretty tough, but I just hope I do well. We’ve been playing on clay a lot lately and there have been a lot of clay court tournaments in the past six months which has been good. I’m pretty comfortable on clay.
MS: How has your success at the 2014 US Open been positive and negative?
CB: It’s been positive because of the experience I gained playing at that level and in front of that type of crowd. On the other hand, it’s had a negative effect because people expect me to do that well every time. Right after the US Open, I had those expectations of myself too. But then I settled down and got over it. Having high expectations set for me can be a good thing though, because it motivates me to be better.
MS: How do you find time to do typical, 16-year-old, things?
CB: I’m homeschooled so I still do my school work every day. I actually just finished for the year because I wanted to make sure I was done with everything before I went to Europe. All my friends that I’m closest with are at the tournaments that I go to, so that’s my social life.
MS: How has the USTA helped your tennis career?
CB: They’ve helped me a lot and we still go down to Boca to play and train with the older American girls. The coaches that the USTA has at the facility down there have really helped me.
MS: Do you have any advice for high-performance junior players who are hoping to fellow your career path?
CB: Make sure you’re working extremely hard. But more importantly, especially for players at a younger age, make sure you’re having fun with it and enjoying playing. If you’re having fun it can take you to really great places.
Keep up with Bellis on social media: