|A teenage-Sloane in 2010.|
Sloane Stephens lost in three sets that day, but I've been following her career ever since. It also helped that I met her mom and taught her brother who attended my middle school several years ago. Her brother has a big personality, and I got to coach him in baseball, teach him English, and help him plan for the future in our Emerson Sports Academy.
That spring, in 2011, Sloane climbed the ranks and qualified for the main draws at the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open. So, when I saw her outside of my school on a spring afternoon, I congratulated her on her success. She smiled and was kind, and I continued to be a fan. I watched her beat Serena at the Australian in 2013, and hoped that would be the moment when Sloane would break into the top 10 to stay. But Sloane was inconsistent and struggled with injuries.
Her brother came back to visit a couple years ago, as he was graduation from high school and heading off to college. He wrote me a note using the Cornell Notes we'd forced them to do in Sports Academy. It was one of those wonderful moments in teaching when you get to see phenomenal growth in a young person.
So, this afternoon, after 11 months away from the game, I cried watching Sloane climb into the stands to hug her coach and mom after winning her first Grand Slam title. Her journey has brought her maturity and positivity on the court that she was missing earlier in her career. It was wonderful to see such phenomenal growth in Sloane. I hope this is the first of many victories for her. As always, I'll be pulling for her!