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Claremont teen gets taste of big time at US Open

Racquel Pedroza fulfilled a lifelong dream recently competing in her first US Open tennis tournament in New York. But to hear her talk, you get the feeling she will be playing on one of tennis’ largest stages for years to come.

The 16-year-old Claremont resident had an unfortunate draw having to face No. 2 seeded Lucie Wargnier of France in the first round of qualifying to get into the main draw of the junior portion at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. Racquel played Wargnier tight in the first set but dropped a 7-6 (9-7) tiebreaker. In the second set she fell, 6-1.

It was an experience she’ll never forget. “For my first US Open, it went great,” Racquel said. “I had a lot of chances in the first set to close, but I didn’t capitalize on those opportunities unfortunately.”

“She got momentum and things went south a little bit. But I learned a lot from it and there’s a lot of work to be done. I’m gonna be back here next year for sure and be in the main draw.”

Racquel said she felt like she was walking on air as she worked her way around the massive National Tennis Center. “It’s amazing,” she said. “Just walking around and seeing the great players and all the big names and to be amongst them is great. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s incredible. I want to be like them someday, and just seeing them I know that I’m just one step closer to making it a reality.”

Racquel said she wanted to meet her favorite player Maria Sharapova, but she has met one of the all-time greats in Roger Federer as she appeared in a Wilson commercial with him last year. She also is a Wilson model and has appeared in numerous clothing advertising campaigns for the tennis apparel and racquet company.

This summer, Racquel played at both the French Open and Wimbledon junior qualifying in Europe. Cheryl said she never applies any pressure on her daughter. “The player innately just has that inside them,” she said. “It comes from them. The whole key to being a successful parent in this atmosphere is to be loving, caring, patient and kind. That’s it.

“When you have a strong competitor like Racquel, they are intense on their own,” Cheryl continued. “If you add any more to that, it’s trouble. I call myself the glorified nanny.”

Racquel attends an online high school so she can focus on her tennis training.

“She’s totally focused on being a professional tennis player,” Cheryl said. “You cannot derail her from that. That is something she’s committed too. And we know it’s a process and we are committed to that process. And we just have to keep working at it and be receptive of all the advice we are getting.”

—Steve Pratt

The link to Pedroza in Roger Federer Wilson commercial:

http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=vONGFCTuQYI 

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