Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins wins NCAA tennis title

A bone fragment is nudging against the ulnar nerve in Danielle Collins' right wrist, and that medial meniscus tear requires her to wear a thick band around her left knee.

But the St. Petersburg native's concrete fortitude, initially honed by endless hours of shuffles and sprints and backhands at Isla del Sol Yacht and Country Club, still bears nary a fracture.

Fusing that steely will with a markedly improved forehand, Collins — a 20-year-old University of Virginia sophomore — won the NCAA women's singles title Monday, 6-2, 7-5 against California's Lynn Chi in Athens, Ga. Her parents, Cathy and Walter, the latter of whom served as her first coach, watched every break point and baseline winner.

Collins, who transferred after an injury-marred freshman year at Florida, became the first Cavalier women's singles champion and first to even reach the quarterfinals.

"This is definitely the icing on the cake for my tennis career," Collins, a 2012 Northeast High graduate, said by phone. She won the 2010 Class 3A state singles title in her only season of prep tennis.

"I know how much that means to my school and teammates and also my coaches. It's just such an exciting time and it just makes it more special when you're playing for a school and other people."

Virginia's No. 2 singles player most of the season, Collins (36-10), who was unseeded, defeated three seeded players in the 64-player tournament, dropping only one set in six matches. Monday, she trailed 5-3 in the second set before scoring 11 consecutive points.

"She seems to get out there and she has no fear," said Cathy Collins, who shuttled her daughter to Bradenton's IMG Academy for training as a high school junior and senior. "I don't know how she does it. It's kind of nerve-wracking for us, but she has no fear."

Danielle said her second-set comeback was ignited by a sequence of forehand winners to accompany her trademark blistering backhand, which once propelled her to the nation's No. 1 ranking in her USTA age group and a $10,000 pro tournament title as a Northeast senior.

"(Collins) played really well at the end," said Chi, also unseeded. "I mean, she hit some really nice shots. I made a few errors. I had that one game, I think, where I hit four balls in the tape or around the tape area."

Collins singled out those who helped thrust her to this apex. Among them: her parents, veteran Isla del Sol instructors Kevin Quay and Scott Dei, and the Virginia trainers who treated her throbbing limbs.

On Friday, Collins, who needed two cortisone shots this semester alone, goes in for wrist surgery.

"It's something that my parents have taught me for a long time, it's just kind of a mentality that you have to go with," she said. "Things aren't always going to go your way and you have to deal with adversity."

St. Petersburg's Danielle Collins wins NCAA tennis title

05/26/14 [Last modified: Monday, May 26, 2014 9:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Twins eventually cash in as Rays lose, fall back to .500 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays could only battle their way out of trouble for so long Saturday afternoon before succumbing in a 5-2 loss to the Twins.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 27: Brian Dozier #2 of the Minnesota Twins celebrates hitting a two-run home run as Derek Norris #33 of the Tampa Bay Rays looks on during the eighth inning of the game on May 27, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Twins defeated the Rays 5-3. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010973
  2. Rays Tales: The stories behind Corey Dickerson's ascension

    The Heater

    The 25 pounds DH/LF Corey Dickerson lost during the winter through diet and exercise are considered the primary reason for his ascension to one of the American League's most productive hitters, going into the weekend leading in hits, multi-hit games and total bases, and ranked in the top five in average, runs and …

    Tampa Bay Rays designated hitter Corey Dickerson (10) connects for a sac fly, scores Tampa Bay Rays first baseman Steve Pearce (28) in the fourth inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Wednesday, June 15, 2016.
  3. For starters: Rays at Twins, looking for another with Odorizzi starting


    UPDATE, 12:45: Cash said Robertson was taking better swings Friday and so he wanted to move him up today, liking the idea of having three straight right-handers vs. a LHP they don't know much about. ... Souza was still smiling this morning about his failed dive attempt last night, and the reaction it got. .. The …

  4. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  5. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]