Classes start Tuesday at the University of Virginia, but Danielle Collins won't be there. The St. Petersburg native will miss the first few days of her junior year, but she has an excused absence. Collins will be playing in the U.S. Open, which starts Monday in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.
She earned a berth by winning the NCAA women's singles title May 26. The 2012 Northeast High graduate plays No. 2 seeded Simona Halep of Romania, who was a finalist at the French Open.
Before her opponent was set, Collins talked about playing in a major, how she spent her summer and her future plans.
When you started out as a kid playing on the public courts in St. Petersburg, did you ever imagine yourself one day playing in the U.S. Open?
For sure. It's always been a dream of mine to play in a tournament like the U.S. Open, to play in front of those big crowds. I'm very excited about it. It's going to be great being there and, of course, I want to do the best that I can. But I also want to take in the sights and really enjoy every second of it. I hope this is the first of many to come.
Do you plan on staying in school or turning pro?
I'm going to finish up at Virginia. I'm missing a few days of school because of this, but my professors have been understanding. Once this is over then I'll go back to Virginia and get to work. I plan on getting two degrees. I'm majoring in media studies and drama. I hope to one day be a sports reporter. As for tennis, we'll see how it goes. If I'm still playing well when I graduate, then I'll try to make a living at it.
Have you been able to relax at all this summer after winning the NCAA championship?
Not really. I had surgery on my (right) wrist three days after the tournament (bone fragment). I had my wrist in a cast, but I did workouts off the tennis court to stay in shape. There really hasn't been too much down time. I'm the kind of person who likes to keep my foot on the gas. But I did have some time to enjoy Tampa.
What are your expectations at the U.S. Open?
I hope to get past the first round … but you know they will all be good players. As long as I play my best I'll be happy.