ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — A week in Albuquerque turned out to be one big party for CoCo Vandeweghe and Eleni Danilidou.
Not only did the two friends celebrate Danilidou’s 31st birthday on Thursday, they turned the ColemanVision Tennis Championships doubles competition into a weeklong joyride.
Vandeweghe and Danilidou capped their impressive week with a championship Sunday at Tanoan Country Club, defeating Melanie Oudin and Taylor Townsend 6-4, 7-6 (2) in the final.
“This was my first time here and we didn’t have time to really go around and see it,” said Danilidou, who hails from Greece. “But this is very special place for me. I’ll never forget this week and I really hope to come back.”
Albuquerque had not always been so kind to Shelby Rogers. The 20-year-old from South Carolina was making her fourth ColemanVision appearance this week.
“The other three trips didn’t last very long,” Rogers said. “I lost in the first round last year, so I definitely wanted to stick around longer this time.”
Rogers stayed to the end, winning the singles championship Sunday with an impressive 6-2, 6-3 victory over Anna Tatishvili. Rogers took home the winner’s paycheck of $11,400, while Tatishvili received $6,080.
Sunday’s singles match started in breezy conditions that became increasingly windy with each passing game. Both players had trouble controlling serve tosses and had to adjust their games depending on whether the wind was with or against them.
“Sorry it wasn’t pretty but we tried our best,” Rogers told the crowd afterward.
Rogers, the tournament’s No. 8 singles seed, had little for which to apologize. She controlled the action throughout with her powerful serves and timely baseline winners.
“It was super windy,” Rogers said, “but I saw how the ball was moving and just tried to play high-percentage tennis, not take too many chances. My serve was on today too, which is definitely helpful.”
Rogers’ power game was too much for the unseeded Tatishvili, who almost certainly was fatigued after grueling, three-set singles and doubles matches Saturday.
The 23-year-old from the Republic of Georgia battled and briefly threatened to extend things when she broke Rogers’ serve to pull within 4-3 in the second set. But Rogers answered with a break in the ensuing game and later closed the match with a forehand winner.
“Shelby’s serve was beautiful today,” Tatishvili said. “Congratulations to her.”
There was a bit more drama in the doubles final as the unseeded team of Oudin and Taylor tried to knock off their third seeded opponents in four matches. Not a bad performance for their first tournament as partners.
A close first set came down to one service break, when Vandeweghe and Danilidou cashed in a Townsend double-fault and earned a break to go up 4-3.
Each team came up with one service break in the second set, forcing a tiebreaker, but Vandeweghe and Danilidou scored the first four points and never looked back. The winners earned paychecks of $2,090, while the runners-up pocketed $1,045 apiece.
It was only the third time playing together for Vandeweghe and Danilidou, but the two seemed remarkably comfortable, smiling and communicating well throughout the match.
“It’s great fun to win any title anywhere,” said Vandeweghe, “and to do it with a friend like Eleni is even better.”
The comment made Danilidou laugh.
“We are great friends now,” she said. “To be honest, two years ago we hated each other. Life is strange sometimes.”
NOTE: Vandeweghe is the niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe. Asked about her relationship, CoCo smiled. “He’s just my uncle,” she said, “one of many family members who think they’re hot stuff.”