— It must be the shoes.
Coco Gauff revealed she was wearing specially designed sneakers – during her Friday night Billie Jean King Cup win over Austria’s Julia Grabher – that carry a special message.The sneakers pay homage to nearby Pompey Park, blocks from the tennis stadium, and patterned on the footwear was an ode to her youth.
“I had an artist paint it to make it those colors,’’ Gauff said. “I grew up there. It’s where I started tennis pretty much. Me and my dad. My brothers played baseball there. I spent a lot of time there – even now. My grandfather founded the baseball league and still is coaching. It’s a family thing and that’s why it’s on my shoe. A lot of locals know the place dearly.’’
And many among the crowd of 2,300 watching Gauff overpower the 73rd-ranked Austrian, 6-1, 6-3 were from her old neighborhood as well as current hometown of Delray Beach.“I had a very warm welcome, which I knew was going to happen,’’ Gauff said. “It was a very special moment out there for me today playing for my country, my home city.’’
Gauff and Jessica Pegula – who defeated Sinja Kraus, 6-0, 7-5 – put the US team up 2-0 over the Austrians Friday night. The best-of-5 competition resumes Saturday with USA needing one more win to clinch a berth into November’s 12-team BJK Cup Finals.