Toiling in the Tennis Minor Leagues
As most players outside the Top 200 must, Gauff next moved to the International Tennis Federation circuit of smaller tournaments below the WTA level in hopes of earning enough ranking points to gain entry to the elite tier.
At an $80,000 green-clay tournament in Charlottesville, Va., No. 392 Gauff lost in the first round to Zoe Hives, 6-4, 7-6 (3), on April 23.
In Charleston, S.C., the next week, Gauff, then ranked 387th, won two matches in qualifying and two more in the main draw to reach the quarterfinals of the $100,000 I.T.F. tournament. She lost in the quarterfinals to Taylor Townsend, the eventual champion.
Training in Europe
On May 6, in the first round of qualifying at a $100,000 I.T.F. tournament in Bonita Springs, Fla., Gauff suffered her worst loss of the year, falling, 6-1, 6-1, to 334th-ranked Quinn Gleason.
Gauff, ranked No. 354, then headed to France, where she occasionally trains at Patrick Mouratoglou’s academy. In St. Gaudens, France, Gauff reached the quarterfinals of a $60,000 I.T.F. tournament before losing to 154th-ranked Tereza Martincova in three sets. It is the last match she played on the I.T.F. circuit.
Gauff, now 324th, received a wild card into the qualifying draw of the French Open because she won the junior title last year. Gauff won a professional match at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time, beating Ankita Raina, 6-4, 6-4. Gauff lost in the second round of qualifying to the Slovene teenager Kaja Juvan, who would later take a set off Serena Williams at Wimbledon.