FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – Eighteen year-old Sloane Stephens has a plan for this year. It has nothing to do with tennis, but what to do after she returns to her native Los Angeles.
“Now I know for sure when I get home after the season’s over I’m getting a car,” she said after disposing of23rd seed Shahar Pe’er in the second round, 6-1 7-6(4). “That’s the only thing I’m really looking forward to now.”
And what kind of car?
“I don’t know,” she answered. “That’s a big question. My mom wants me to get a truck. I want to get a small car. It’s very confusing.”
What’s not confusing is the run this young girl is having here in Flushing Meadows. Along with Christina McHale and Irina Falconi, Stephens is one of the young American girls making some noise during the first week and hoping it will continue as Labor Day Weekend heats up.
“I don’t even think about it,” she said. Fun fact: Christina, Irina, and myself are all in the third round of the US Open and playing the PanAm Games together.”
That’s Stephens for you. This girl is smart, engaging with a mind going a million miles a minute. She likes to talk in a very plain speak to the 15 reporters in the interview room after her match. There’s no intimidation or at least she doesn’t think there should be.
“I think it’s pretty cool, just like talking to normal people,” she said. “It’s not like you guys are a bunch of aliens sitting there and I should be like, Oh, my God, freaking out.
“It’s definitely fine for me. Should I be scared or something?”
That’s not inexperience talking. This girl is fearless. She doesn’t care if she’s facing a ranked player on the court or a bunch of cynical reporters in an interview room.
And Pe’er learned that today. Stephens played aggressively and attacked the Israeli star. She said she definitely likes to hit the ball “I don’t know where that came from,” she said. “But it happens. Comes off pretty hard, I think, sometimes.”
Outside of the courts, Stephens is an avid Tweeter on her Twitter account. She sends inspirational messages to her followers such as, “There’s no need to rush. If something is meant to be, it will happen. In the right time, with the right person, for the best reason.” And, “Happiness is not a goal, but a decision. Life is 1% what happens to you and 99% how you react to it.”
“I just see something, I’m like, Wow, everyone should read this,” she said. “It’s not really like, Oh, I’m like trying to get people to like do certain stuff or anything. It’s like, Oh, I saw that. I thought it was cool.”
Other than that, Stephen’s also helps take care of her 13 year-old brother, someone she drives around and picks up from school.
And all of this came after moving back to Los Angeles after living in Florida for a few years.
“L.A. is an awesome place,” she said. “I have a little brother, so I try to spend as much time with him as possible. He’s been playing baseball.
“L.A. gets tricky for us because there’s a lot of traffic and I don’t like to drive. It’s kind of hard. But definitely L.A. and Florida are two different places. It’s just what you like basically, what we’re in the mood for.”
And yes, she is buying a car even with a disdain for driving.
“See, the thing is, I don’t like traffic,” Stephens said. “It’s very hard for me to drive in traffic. And my brother is the most annoying person to have in the car when you’re driving.
“Seriously, he’ll be like, Why aren’t you honking? What are you doing? Get in that lane. I’ll be like, Can you stop? I need to focus. He’ll be reaching over to honk the horn. It’s crazy. He’ll have to sit in the backseat when I get the car.”
Yet, that’s going to have to wait. Right now Stephens has a third round match against former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and she wants a bump up in venue after winning today on the Grandstand.
“Maybe we’ll be on a bigger court,” she said. “Maybe we’ll be on Armstrong. I’ve got to work my way up. Today I almost got Ashe by default and I didn’t want it.”
One step at a time, and if she does win, Stephens said to expect some sort of special celebration by her like the American flag waving by Falconi yesterday.
“Everyone has to have their own special thing that they do,” she said. “So she does the American flag. Hopefully Christina will give us something tomorrow to work with. Then the next day I’ll give you guys something.”
Something to look forward to.