CONCORD — Nearly a dozen years removed from her Boston Lobsters days, CoCo Vandeweghe on Sunday potted a pair of succulent Bay State catches, winning both the singles and doubles titles here at the WTA’s Thoreau Tennis Open.
Vandeweghe, 30, kicked off her twin title marches with a grinding, 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 win over Croatian-born Bernarda Pera, the tourney’s No. 2 seed, that lasted 2 hours 27 minutes on a sun-drenched Center Court.
Only some 90 minutes later, the former world No. 9 returned to H.D. Thoreau’s west-of-Walden hardcourt with Russian-born Varvara Flink and the pair posted a 6-4, 7-6 (7-3) win to clinch the doubles, ousting the tandem of Peangtarn Plipuech (Thailand) and Moyuka Uchijima (Japan).
It was a long day’s work for Vandeweghe, the 2018 doubles champ at the US Open. The added two sets in the doubles, topped off with a tiebreaker that had Vandeweghe serving for the clinching point, added another 1:16 to the Californian’s Thoreauville time card.
Little wonder, as shadows of the surrounding oak and pine trees blanketed the court at day’s end, a smiling Vandeweghe briefly required a trainer’s healing touch on her legs before she high-stepped from the sideline with Flink for the trophy ceremony.
As Vandeweghe made her way to the showers, and a late-evening flight headed to Vancouver for her next tournament (play begins Tuesday), a visitor asked what the day’s two titles meant to her.
“Ah,” said the 6-footer with the booming serve, “a good night’s sleep.”
Vandeweghe bagged $20,000, three quarters of that for the singles win, for the two titles. Perhaps most important, the singles title also brought her 160 WTA points, which will jiggle her up a few notches in world rankings released on Monday.
Working her way back from a series of injuries that significantly began to disrupt her career in 2018, Vandeweghe arrived here ranked a lowly WTA 192. Not factoring in the doubles win at Wimbledon in 2018, she had not won a doubles title since 2017 (at Stanford). Her last singles title came in the 2016 Libema Open in the Netherlands.
“Winning is great,” said Vandeweghe, sounding both relieved and excited at day’s end. “I mean, you can’t not (sic) have confidence coming out here and taking two titles.”
Following that career-high ranking of No. 9 in Jan. 2018, Vandeweghe began to slip dramatically down the pecking order when a foot/ankle injury cropped up out of nowhere at Wimbledon that summer. She ultimately had to exit tournament play for some eight months, into 2019, and then lost more ground in 2020 when a pot exploded in her hands in a freak kitchen accident, severing a pair of ligaments and causing nerve damage in her left pinkie finger.
Her goal now, ultimately, is to regain her status among the best in the world, put pressure on the game’s elite pack, play into the second week of the four Grand Slam events. All of which makes those 160 WTA points as valuable a catch right now as, say, an 8-pound lobstah.
“I want to be in the top 100, hopefully by the Australian Open,” said Vandeweghe, thinking ahead to next season’s first Grand Slam event, “and just keep progressing back to where I once was — that’s the goal.”
To the best of her recollection, it was the first time in her career, dating back to turning pro at age 14 in 2006, that she won two titles on the same day.
“Probably never,” she said, waffling slightly, “maybe ITF [International Tennis Federation], I don’t know, I can’t remember when.”
Vandeweghe broke the lefthanded Pera, fresh off two European titles, in the seventh and ninth games of the opening set, closing out the 6-3 win in a tidy 29 minutes. A power server and confident baseline basher, for the most part she kept Pera pinned to the baseline. It muted any advantage Pera might have been able to gain from her edge in agility and fitness.
“My game is definitely to hit deep and through the court,” noted Vandeweghe, “and put my presence on to the opponent. I thought I did a good enough job with that today, and tried to do it as consistently as I could, so she never felt like she could breathe.”
But the plucky Pera delivered the only break in the second set, the 11th game, prevailing in an 18-pointer that took a total 13 minutes — nearly half of what it took to play the first set. Pera clinched it, 7-5, with her next service game, a set that lasted 1:12.
Set No. 3 added another hour, and both players showed their fatigue.
“Like Rocky Balboa and Apollo Creed,” noted Vandeweghe’s coach, Luke Jensen, who was on the sideline for both her titles. “This easily could have gone either way. By the end, they were both shot fighters.”
Vandeweghe notched the first break to take a 3-1 lead in the third, Pera losing what was the game’s 22nd point, sailing a forehand long from the baseline.
Vandeweghe then fell apart in the next game for her lead to drop to 3-2, but then Pera broke, stumbling to a 4-2 deficit, on the very next game. Vandeweghe also broke for a second straight time.
The end came with Pera on serve in a 10th game, in which she failed to notch a point. Nothing left.
“This is just amazing,” mused Vandeweghe. “I mean, from not being able to walk in 2018, to holding a trophy this many years later . . . it’s unbelievable. All adversity . . . there’s always good to find at the end of the tunnel.”
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.