Lauren Davis won the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff in December over CoCo Vandeweghe to earn a spot in the women's main draw at the 2011 Australian Open. The 17-year-old Ohio native, who is scheduled to make her Grand Slam debut against world No. 6 Samantha Stosur in the first round Tuesday, talks about facing Stosur, her four-month winning streak and more in this exclusive blog for USTA.com.
I'm real excited because I always wanted to come to Australia. It's been a lifelong dream of mine. Being able to play Sam Stosur on Center Court is awesome. At first, when I saw the draw, I was nervous, but I have nothing to lose, and she has everything on the line. I'm going to see if I can win.
I haven't lost a match in four months. One of my strengths is being mentally tough, and I can get through matches, even when I'm playing bad. Last fall, I won a $10,000 ITF Futures, a $25,000, the Yucatan Cup, the Eddie Herr, the Orange Bowl and then the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff. I thought I would be really tired, and it took a toll on my legs when I played a four-and-a-half-hour match, but after a day or two off, I could jump back in.
After I lost in the first round of the US Open juniors -- I really wanted to win that tournament -- I was down on myself, and I knew I had to keep persevering and get through the hard times, and I did, and I came out even tougher. I've been playing aggressive. I move really well, and, plus, I'm mentally tough. In the big moments, I'm good, for the most part.
This time last year, I wouldn't have been able to compete with the top players at all. I was still living at home in Cleveland, and then I moved to the Evert Academy in Florida last January. It took me awhile to adjust to the different lifestyle. I was playing and doing fitness five hours a day and living in a dorm without my parents, and it was kind of hard. I missed my family and my home, but now I consider Evert my home, and I would never go back.
I'm taking classes online now instead of going to regular high school, and it's easier because I can take my high school anywhere. When I lived in Cleveland, I was only playing an hour and a half a day, and I wasn't doing any fitness. Evert is a lot more detailed with their work schedule, and I really like it.
I first started playing when I was nine and a half. I didn't start to get good until I was 14, and I didn't know I could play at a really high level until about a year and a half ago. I was playing tournaments and would come across someone who I thought was so much better than me, and I'd believe in myself and win. Then I knew I could compete with the big girls.
When I got to the USTA Australian Open Wild Card Playoff, I was coming off a high because I had won so many tournaments in a row, and I told myself just to play my game and not put pressure on myself. I ended up playing really well and beating people I thought were better than me.
Off the court, I like to hang out with my friends and family, go to movies and read. I just got a Kindle for Christmas, and that's pretty cool. I like to read mysteries, as long as they are not too gory.
I know I can compete with these girls in Australia and beat a lot of them, and I think I have a good shot against Stosur on Monday. I saw her play the French Open final against Schiavone. She has a really strong forehand and good kick serve, but my friend Madison Keys has a really good kick serve to the backhand, and I'm used to that. My backhand is strong, and I'm going to take it early.
I'll be nervous but excited, and I won't let the crowd bother me. It should be a really cool atmosphere!