Column: Katrina Scott trying to make a name (and bio) for herself at U.S. Open
Clicking on Katrina Scott’s biography on the Women’s Tennis Assn. web site is a frustrating experience. There are blanks where her height, age, handedness and birthplace should be listed, and a generic female silhouette fills the spot where a photo should be displayed.
“I know,” she said with a laugh. “I was talking to some of the WTA people the other day and they were like, ‘We have absolutely nothing on you. We have to get some stuff.’”
Scott is giving the WTA plenty of material to use in her bio besides the basic facts that she’s 5 feet 11, turned 16 in June, plays right-handed, and was born and grew up in Woodland Hills.
Her new bio should begin with Scott winning her first-round match at the U.S. Open, a 7-6 (3), 6-2 decision over Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia on Tuesday. Scott, a quarterfinalist at last year’s junior U.S. Open, made her main-draw Grand Slam debut in New York this year thanks to a late wild-card invitation. She seized the opportunity and prevailed on Court 15, one of the outposts at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. On Thursday, she will face No. 22 seed Amanda Anisimova at Louis Armstrong Stadium, the second-biggest venue on the grounds.
There won’t be any fans in the seats because of restrictions meant to combat the coronavirus outbreak, but there will be plenty of interest in the match between Anisimova, a 2019 French Open semifinalist who turned 19 this week, and Scott, the youngest competitor left in the draw. The scrutiny won’t faze Scott, who quickly overcame the “happy nerves” she felt before her first match. Her biggest worry might be how to resist acting starstruck when she’s around players she so recently admired from afar.
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Scott followed Serena and Venus Williams especially, drawing strength from their rise from playing on public courts in Compton to legendary Grand Slam champions. “I watched all their documentaries, their movies,” Scott said during a phone interview Wednesday, “and I just looked to them for inspiration coming from their background and how they were able to persevere. I always found that as an inspiration and have used that to try and accomplish things.”
Scott still finds it difficult to believe she shares the locker room with the Williams sisters and other illustrious players. “Venus was on the bus next to me the other day,” Scott said, her voice conveying her sense of wonder. “All of them are amazing. I’ve seen most of them. They’re all around the locker rooms.
“It’s crazy how I’m not here to watch them, I’m here to play against them.”
Scott turned pro in November, not long after she was the No. 1 singles player for Team USA in a junior Fed Cup threepeat. “I’d always wanted to go pro and be a professional tennis player and live on tour and travel and do all those great things,” said Scott, who attended school in Woodland Hills through middle school but then turned to home learning. “When the opportunity presented itself, it was perfect timing.”
Scott signed with Topnotch Management partly because she developed a quick and strong bond with one of its agents, Meilen Tu, a Tarzana native whose world tennis singles ranking peaked at No. 35. “She was a great tennis player and it helps because she has some guidance for me,” Scott said. “She knows the area, she knows the tournaments, she knows what it’s like as a professional tennis player, so I can always go to her for advice and stuff.”
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Scott also decided to change her training base to Columbus, Ohio, which is where she spent the quarantine. Her mother lives with her and her father comes to visit every few weeks. “When I first made the move it was all of a sudden. It wasn’t something I could have ever expected. And it worked out great,” she said. “I had gone to Columbus to train and I had really connected with the coaches I was working with there, so I went back there and started living there.
“It’s definitely a change, and it has worked out for the better. The tennis is great. It’s a different move going from Cali to Columbus. I moved in the winter, too, so that was definitely a big change from SoCal.”
Scott will face a tough opponent in her first meeting with Anisimova, a powerful player who has great shot-making ability. “She plays very aggressive,” Scott said. “She hits the ball very hard and very deep so I’ve just got to use my legs and try and counter it.”
No matter what happens, Scott feels like she will leave a winner. “There’s no pressure at all. I feel like at the tournament I have the least amount of pressure on myself,” she said. “Everyone’s supporting me 1,000%. I just feel I have nothing to lose and I’ll just try my best and do what I can and leave my all out there.”
She’s filling in the blanks in that biography quickly, and in impressive style.
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