Getting to Know Hailey Baptiste – Quick Q & A
(August 30, 2019) FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Hailey Baptiste, 17 is currently ranked 268th on the WTA Tour. She won her first WTA level main draw match at the Citi Open last month, in her native Washington, D.C. when she shocked 2017 US Open finalist and world No. 17 Madison Keys in the first round.
Baptiste came in third place at the USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 18s National Championships in San Diego, earlier in August.
She received a wildcard into the US Open qualifying tournament where she reached the second round.
Baptiste took a few minutes out of her busy schedule to speak to Tennis Panorama at the US Open.
Tennis Panorama: How did you get started playing tennis?
Hailey Baptiste: My dad used play a little bit for fun when he was younger. So one day when I was like four-years-old he took me out to a park and we started hitting and I just begged him to go hit after school everyday.
TP: Were you part of a program?
HB: Yes, WTEF (Washington Tennis and Education Foundation). It’s in DC, where the Citi Open is played. I trained there for like two years from 4-6 and then went on to College Park – JTCC (Junior Tennis Champions Center) until I eventually moved to (Orlando) Florida to train with the USTA full time.
TP: What is your status now? Are you going to school, are you home schooled?
HB: I’m in my senior year (of high school) and I’m going to turn pro pretty soon.
I won’t play any more juniors.
TP: How was your experience at the US Open?
HB: It was really fun. I lost in the second round of qualies, but it was still a really good experience and it was my first Grand Slam. It was a lot of fun and I can’t wait to be back.
TP: Have you done anything fun in New York City?
HB: I actually went to see Hamilton. It was really good play. I would go see it again.
TP: You’ve talked about your favorite players being Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal.
HB: I grew up watching them since I was really little, really young kid. They were always like the big players that I liked a lot. I feel that I play a lot like Serena and I just love the way that Nadal plays, the way he fights for every point and I would like to try do that as best as I can, so that’s why.
TP: Your WTA Tour level main draw debut at the Citi Open, basically your home. How did it feel to play there?
HB: It was really nice to play right at home, I live about a block away. I grew up with those courts my whole life. It was really surreal winning my first WTA match there.
TP: There are so many up-and-coming young American women, can you talk about that.
HB: We all train together a lot so. It’s really great that all of them are doing so well and hopefully I start to get some better results soon, so I can be there too. It’s great to see all of the American women doing so well.
TP: Are you ladies inspiring each other?
HB: It’s always inspiring to see each other do well, to get these breakthroughs and have and big moments with the team. We’ve all had them, but it’s really cool for this to happen. Seems like every week somebody else is having a breakthrough.
TP: Can you talk about what everyone is talking about – CoCo Gauff. She’s taken the summer by storm with her performances at the summer majors. She seems so poised for a 15-year-old.
HB: She’s a pretty goofy kid. We’re pretty good friends. We grew up together. We have a good friendship. She’s playing (Naomi) Osaka tomorrow, so I wish her the best of luck.
TP: If someone were to ask you, how would you describe your game?
HB: I’m am all-court player, I have a pretty big forehand and I like to use it to get into the net and use my serve to serve and volley some and chip and charge a little bit.
TP: What advice would you give the kids coming up behind you?
HB: Don’t be too serious, don’t take the game too serious, it is still a game and have fun.