It’s been a phenomenal year to say the least for 15-year-old American Coco Gauff.
She made headlines around the world by reaching the fourth round of Wimbledon, becoming the youngest woman to reach the second week of a major since 1996. Gauff later won her first title in Linz, Austria in the fall—the youngest WTA champion since 2004. She broke the Top 100 after Linz and climbed to No. 68 by the time the WTA’s year-end rankings came out in November.
Even more impressively, Gauff achieved all of this while playing a limited schedule as per the WTA’s age eligibility rule, which helps protect players under 18 from playing too much and burning out.
But she’s still a few years away from her 18th birthday, which is when players are allowed to play an unlimited amount on the WTA tour. So exactly how much tennis can Gauff play in 2020?
Firstly, the WTA’s age eligibility rule goes by birth year, and Gauff has a maximum of three events left to play as a 15-year-old, before turning 16 on March 13, 2020. She's set to play the Australian Open and Indian Wells and it was recently announced she’ll make her first appearance at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, one of the lead-up events to the Australian Open. Apart from Auckland, the Australian Open and Indian Wells, Gauff can also compete in Fed Cup if she’s selected for the team. The U.S. plays Latvia in a qualifier tie in February.
Once she turns 16, the amount of tournaments Gauff can play is reset. As a 16-year-old between March 13, 2020 and March 13, 2021, Gauff will be able to play up to 16 tournaments, which includes her merited increases. In addition to that, she could play the Olympics or the WTA Finals if she qualifies, as well as any Fed Cup ties she’s selected for throughout the 12-month period.
But before looking too far ahead, Gauff is focusing on her 2020 debut in Auckland, where there will be a star-studded field that includes Bianca Andreescu, the US Open champion, and Serena Williams, who’s reached the final of the last two Grand Slams.
"This year was such an incredible year and I achieved so many of the goals that I had set for myself. Wimbledon was obviously a highlight, as was capturing my first WTA title," Gauff told ASBClassic.co.nz. "However, I have a number of goals and things that I am working on in my game, and I can’t wait to start my 2020 year at the ASB Classic.
“So many players talk about Auckland. I have not been before, so this will be cool to experience.”
Gauff has already committed to the Citi Open in Washington D.C. in August, too, where she won her first WTA doubles title this past year alongside Caty McNally. The two American teenagers, who call their team “McCoco”, won a second WTA doubles title together in Luxembourg in the fall.