Monica Puig is Puerto Rico’s first WTA tournament winner

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The tennis pro made history in France by taking home the win over Spain’s Silvia Soler Espinosa, Ray Monell reports in this article for The New York Daily News.
Monica Puig made history in France last month, becoming the first Puerto Rican woman to win a WTA tournament by besting Spain’s Silvia Soler Espinosa at the Internationaux de Strasbourg.

Puig, 20, was knocked out of the 2014 French Open in the opening round soon after winning what was her first-ever WTA title. But she gave a sampling of her potential at the grand slam tournament in 2013 with victories over Nadia Petrova of Russia and American player Madison Keys.

And prior to suffering a fourth-round, three-set loss to Sloane Stephens of the U.S. at last year’s Wimbledon Championships, she defeated then No. 5-ranked Sara Errani of Italy in round one to become the first woman from Puerto Rico since Kristina Brandi in 2005 to win a main draw match there.

“I thought it was about time that I started coming into my own, that I started playing the tennis that I know I can play,” Puig, a nominee for the WTA’s 2013 Newcomer of the Year award, tells Viva of her coming-of-age on the tour.
“At Wimbledon (in 2013), I just let go and really showed what I could do, and was able to hold my nerves in the important moments when it was time to close out a match.

“I’ve been able to play against bigger names on the tour, and obviously it helps a lot when it comes to improving your game and also improving your mentality on the court,” the No. 41-ranked player adds.

“You start to really understand what it’s like to compete at such a high level.”

Puig, who is 149-79 in singles play, welcomes the pressure that comes with rising expectations and being the WTA’s highest-ranked player from Latin America.

“(The pressure) was difficult to manage at first,” says Puig, a native of Hato Rey who lives in Miami.

“But I think my game is improving in so many ways. And, like Billie Jean King said, ‘Pressure is a privilege. You always have to embrace it.’ ”

Like most professional athletes, Puig’s profession pulls her away from friends and family for long stretches of time, but it’s a price she’s willing to pay in exchange for reaching a higher level of performance.

“I haven’t spent the holidays at home more than three, four years now,” she says. “I’ve spent, already, two Christmases on a plane.

“Whether it’s sacrificing spending the holidays at home or working very hard while other people are enjoying other things, if you have a dream, just work hard for it,” Puig says.

“Even if you don’t see results right away, the results will come and you’ll see the hard work pay off.”

For the original report go to http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/monica-puig-puerto-rico-wta-tournament-winner-article-1.1821816

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