Earlier this month, Julie Coin lost in straight sets to the world’s 423rd-ranked player in the first round of qualifying for an unheralded tournament.
She never would have guessed she was two weeks away from a remarkable victory when, on the main court at a Grand Slam, Coin beat the No. 1 player in the world.
“Before the tournament, I was not imagining it this way like it happened today,” a giddy Coin said after beating Ana Ivanovic in the second round of the US Open on Thursday.
No, recently what she was imagining about her tennis future was maybe quitting at the end of the year. The Frenchwoman wasn’t making any headway toward breaking into the top 100 in the rankings, the measure of viability. She came into the Open at No. 188.
Coin toiled at a series of minor tournaments on the ITF Tour.
This month, she lost her first match in trying to qualify for the Bronx Tennis Classic, a minor pro circuit event.
She had never played a match on the WTA Tour or at a Grand Slam before this week, when she upset 40th-ranked Casey Dellacqua of Australia on Tuesday. It took winning three qualifying matches to even reach that point.
Coin didn’t get as far as resolving what she’d do for a living if she quit. Maybe she’d coach. It doesn’t hurt to have a mathematics degree to fall back on.
“So I guess maybe now I’m going to think about, like, keep playing,” she said.
After some early nerves on Thursday, she looked right at home. More so than Ivanovic, the French Open champ.
“I thought she was maybe nervous more than I was,” Coin said.
It wasn’t until match point that the enormity of the situation weighed down on her.
Back in France, her parents were only able to watch part of the third set on TV; countrywoman Amelie Mauresmo’s match had been shown instead. Mauresmo, is Coin’s third-round opponent.
Coin’s parents were handball players who wished they could have advanced further in their sport. They encouraged her to chase the dreams they never achieved.
She turned pro after a university career in which she reached the No. 2 ranking in the US. Coin followed a boyfriend to Clemson University.
Perhaps Coin is a bit of a late bloomer. Even as a junior player, she said, it always took forever before she achieved breakthrough victories. She joked that she’s a “slow learner.”
Coin said life on the ITF circuit was difficult.
“The ITF, it’s really hard,” said Coin, who comes from Amiens, about 100km north of Paris.
“You have to do everything. You have to call for your hotel and you go in some places not really nice sometimes,” she said.