CARLSBAD — As cars, trucks and vans zipped along El Camino Real on business, CoCo Vandeweghe was on Stadium No. 2 trying to take care of some business of her own.
A win and she’s in; a loss and she goes back home to Newport Beach.
As it happened, Vandeweghe, 21, and who grew up in Rancho Santa Fe, won her match 7-6 (3), 6-3, against Olga Savchuk of the Ukraine, to enter the main draw of the Southern California Open tournament at the Omni La Costa Resort and Spa.
Vandeweghe, who made it through a weekend of three qualifying matches said it was nice to earn her way into the main draw, where her best showing was making it to the quarter finals in 2010.
She said there were benefits to having to go through the qualifying rounds — for one, getting more matches, which means more points and two, more preparation on the court than someone in the main draw that hasn’t played a match.
“They may have practiced on the court,” she said, “but everything’s a little bit different once you step out and actually play a real point.”
Ranked No. 199 in the world, Vandeweghe said that it’s been a little bit of a tough year for her in trying to progress her game.
Injuries such as back problems or sprained ankles have stunted some of the work she’s been doing off the court, including re-dedicating herself to fitness, which she added, is something that she believes is starting to pay off.
In part, her refocus on fitness was to help prevent some of those injuries from occurring, but also because she wasn’t seeing the results she wanted to see on the tennis courts.
Turning to Donald Dell, an International Tennis Hall of Fame member, for his opinion, he told her that she needed to work on her fitness.
Since just before her European swing this year, she started training with a friend of hers, Brent Callaway at Athletes Performance in Carson, Calif.
“I thought that it was the perfect opportunity for me to get into great physical shape,” she said.
Callaway implemented a stricter workout routine, which Vandeweghe said, has made her life easier.
Her win against Savchuk on Monday could have been an exercise in mental toughness in overcoming adversity.
Saying she played only “OK” against Savchuk, and also had to receive medical attention in the second set for her back. A trainer was able to massage out the back during a timeout, though Vandeweghe said the injury could be a concern for her for the rest of the tournament, if it continues to be a problem.
Vandeweghe said her mental toughness is something that is both inherent and something that she works on a day-by-day basis.
“You have to be put into tough situations to realize how mentally strong you are and what you’re capable of, and I definitely feel like I’ve… had a couple of adversities,” she said.
“It’s just a constant work in progress. Not everyone’s perfect. Some days I wake up on the wrong side of the bed.”
Vandeweghe does admit she can get angry out on the court. And can that affect the way she plays? “It depends,” she said with a wry smile.
With the tournament featuring a strong international field Vandeweghe said she doesn’t change her game based on where her opponent is from, but rather on the opponent’s game play or style.
“I think most of the time it comes down to what I can implement against them, not what they can implement against me,” Vandeweghe added.
As for the emergence of an American dominance in the game: “Tennis is becoming a very international sport,” she said. “As far as an American dominance, I think it’s going to be a really tough ask, but I think it’s still possible, that’s for sure.”