02 Mar 2015

CiCi Bellis Blog: I loved playing Junior Fed Cup

News Article

Photo: Susan MullaneSofia Kenin, Cici Bellis and Tornado Alicia Black (USA)

Current world Junior No. 2 CiCi Bellis burst on to the global tennis scene at the US Open in 2014 when, aged just 15, she became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam match since Anna Kournikova in 1996. By the end of the year, Bellis had won the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas with USA and been named ITF Junior World Champion. In the second of a three-part blog series for ITF Juniors, Bellis reflects on helping USA to its third Junior Fed Cup crown in Mexico last year, looking up to Serena and Venus Williams, and beating Dominika Cibulkova in New York. 

I loved playing Junior Fed Cup last year. Every time I’ve had the opportunity to play in a team format I’ve loved it and I’ve always played so well. It was just so much fun and it is such an honour to play for your country.

Playing tennis in a team event is different, but it’s not too different. At the end of the day it’s just two people on the court and it’s not like you have the whole team on the court with you. What makes it different is the mentality that you have when playing in a team competition. Just thinking about playing for your country and playing for your team gives you that extra something. You don’t want to lose for your teammates, you want to win for them, and that just gives you more confidence going into every match. It makes me play even better.

I hope to play in the senior Fed Cup team one day - that would be amazing. There are obviously a lot of other good American players that are ahead of me at the moment, so we’ll see.

It’s great to have so many American players in the game. Venus and Serena are definitely people I look up to. I mean, Serena has just won her 19th Slam I think – I can’t even keep track it’s so many!  She has obviously been so amazing for American tennis. She’s the best player of all time in my mind. I definitely look up to both her and Venus, who has been doing really well lately also. I haven’t had too much contact with either of them - I’ve only played at one tournament that they’ve been at after all!

Winning in the first round at the US Open [against former Grand Slam finalist Dominika Cibulkova] last year gave me so much confidence. I think the next time that I play on a big stage it will give me confidence. Just having that in the back of my mind will help me bring that level out if I need to. It’s really nice to have that experience.

I was definitely playing well in that match. I think the main thing that got me through it was just not focussing on playing the occasion. I was just playing the ball. I was trying not to treat it too different to other situations that I’ve played in at a high level – in the juniors obviously and on the pro circuit.

I had no idea that I was the youngest player to win a match at a Slam since Anna Kournikova. It’s nice and I do keep clippings of things I’ve achieved so far. I definitely have a couple of [newspaper] sections of the main things I’ve done up in my room. That’s always fun to look back on!

CiCi Bellis was speaking to ITF Juniors, who put together this blog on her behalf. Her third and final Blog will be published next Tuesday.