Pica Power at Wimbledon

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June 30, 2013 by Parveer Mann

Monica Puig celebrates a win at the AELTC. (image availble on guardian.co.uk)

Monica Puig celebrates a win at the AELTC. (image availble on guardian.co.uk)

After an exciting opening week at Wimbledon that saw many big name stars fall, we also may have seen the future of the WTA in slightly greater focus. There were a total of 10 young players (23 and under) who posted at least multiple victories including the likes of Michelle Larcher De Britto, Madison Keys and Genie Bouchard.

Of the three that remain heading into the second week, Laura Robson and Sloane Stephens will surely garner the most coverage and rightfully so based on their previous results. However, those ladies are just one fish in a sea of many players from big tennis nations. I’d rather focus on the only fish from the small pond, the incredible summer run of Puerto Rico’s own Monica Puig.

Only fish in a small pond

At only 19, Puig represents the biggest tennis hope to emerge from Puerto Rico in some time. She has followed up a third round run in Paris (including a win over Nadia Petrova) with a run to the fourth round at this year’s Wimbledon. That’s a big deal for a player who comes from a place more known for its baseball stars than tennis stars.

You may think does one player really matter in the growth or popularity of a sport? I would without hesitation say that it makes a whole lot of difference. Players in individual sports like tennis or golf become the face of that sport in many ways. Their success dictates how much TV coverage that sport gets and the media attention that goes with it. Look at how the coverage of tennis has skyrocketed in countries like Serbia and Belarus after the emergence of Novak and Vika.

You’ve begun to see that sort of attention come Monica’s way this fortnight. She has a strong and vocal Twitter fan base that use #PicaPower when talking about the young star’s ability and roots. One such fan is fellow San Juan native, Ricky Martin who has also taken to Twitter to support Monica.

What’s next?

In an interview she did with the WTA at the start of the year, Monica stated she wanted to be top 20 by the end of the year. A really ambitious goal for a player who had not even played in Grand Slam to that point. But the funny thing is that she is another win or two this week or a good US Open series run away from making that goal come true.

The most impressive thing I’ve seen this week is how she seems so mentally strong in every match she plays. You could have wrote her off after losing the first set in her third round match but there she was Saturday afternoon on the positive side of a tough three-setter.

On Manic Monday, she gets the chance to face fellow youngster, Sloane Stephens in a match that will surely attract some eyeballs. And if she can pull of another big win, you will surely be hearing more about Pica Power and Puerto Rico.


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