18-year-old CiCi Bellis motivated to earn seed at U.S. Open

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The American, ranked 36th, lost to Caroline Garcia in Toronto on Thursday. (Getty Images)

CiCi Bellis has been rising through the ranks in her first season as a professional and now really wants to be seeded at the U.S. Open.

She is ranked No. 36, and could have moved into a Top 32 seeding position had she reached the quarterfinals in Toronto. But in her Round of 16 match on Thursday, she fell to Caroline Garcia, 6-4, 6-2.

The 18-year-old is coming off a semifinal run in Stanford a week ago, where she beat Petra Kvitova, and defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova to reach the third round in Toronto. She could still get into the Top 32 with some wins in Cincinnati next week.

“It's huge for me. But if it happens, it happens—if it doesn't, I hope I can do it another time in the future,” Bellis said of getting a seed. “It's just a big motivation.” 

Bellis turned pro in 2016, and finished the season ranked No. 90. She is now the youngest player in the Top 50, and one of just three teenagers (19-year-old Ana Konjuh of Croatia and 19-year-old Naomi Osaka of Japan).

Bellis, who decided to turn pro instead of going to college, says it has been a change.

“I’ve grown up a lot and matured a lot. Especially now, since this is technically my job, though it doesn't feel like a job,” she said. “When I was [planning on] going to college, I wasn't really playing for myself yet. Now it's on me, and a lot of things I do independently.”

The rising youngster also says her game has gotten better, and she is concentrating on improving her serving.

"I think I'm a bit more aggressive on the big points," she said.


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