10 QUESTIONS FOR COCO VANDEWEGHE

Ken Hoffman serves up 10 questions for tennis star CoCo Vandeweghe

Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

This article originally appeared on CultureMap.

Last year, this same week, I interviewed Swiss tennis star Belinda Bencic who was competing in the Oracle Challenge Series at Rice University.

Bencic was coming off a serious injury and her ranking had fallen outside the Top 50. I asked Bencic 10 questions, some serious, some silly, and boom — she had her best year ever on the tennis tour in 2019, winning three tournaments, making her first Grand Slam semifinal, returning to the Top 10 for the first time since 2016 and qualifying for the year-end Women's Tennis Association Finals.

I don't see a coincidence.

So, this week, I sat down with CoCo Vandeweghe, my favorite American player, another former Top 10 star coming off an injury, at the Oracle Challenger Series currently underway at Rice. Vandeweghe's ranking has fallen outside the Top 300. She plays next against Anhelina Kalinina from Ukraine (no quid pro quo here) in third-round action.

Here are 10 questions with CoCo and I totally expect her back in the Top 10 where she belongs in 2020. It won't be a coincidence.

CultureMap: Your grandmother (Colleen Kay Hutchins) was Miss America in 1952. Have you ever thought about wearing her tiara during a U.S. Open match, just to freak out your opponent?

CoCo Vandeweghe: That's a funny story. Her tiara was stolen from an apartment in New York when she was Miss America, right out of a safe. So we don't have her tiara.

They didn't give her a replacement, this was back in the '50s. We kept the trophy, which we gave back to the organization as memorabilia when she passed away (in 2010).

CM: Tennis players have to stay in shape, but what do you dive into on a cheat day?

CV: My birthday is coming up (December 6). I will be having steak, baked potato, asparagus, and chocolate cake. That's my menu for my birthday, and that's a cheat day. I will have butter on the baked potato— the full nine yards. I don't care, calories don't count on your birthday.


Continue on CultureMap to find out if CoCo ever gets genuinely mad at an opponent, and much more.

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We need to mask up. Image via: SEC Network/Screenshot

Texas A&M is taking this coronavirus crisis very seriously.

How seriously? The school recently announced the following changes:

  • Attendance at football games will be held to 25 percent of Kyle Field's 102,733 capacity.
  • Hand sanitizing stations will be located throughout the stadium.
  • Drinking fountains will be turned off.
  • Concession stands will only provide "grab-and-go" items and have plexiglass barriers between customers and workers.
  • Customers will have to pay with credit cards (no cash transactions).
  • Social distancing will be enforced everywhere (including restrooms).
  • Elevators will have reduced capacity.
  • Fans in suites must stay in those suites (no suite-hopping).
  • Yell leaders must keep off the field.
  • The famed Parsons Mounted Calvary cannon won't be fired after A&M scores (they taped the cannon's sound earlier and will play that).
The college hired extra security personnel to enforce these safety rules. Security would have the authority to eject protocol violators from the stadium.

A&M isn't missing a trick, good for them. It's critically important to enact these extraordinary rules, especially with coronavirus cases rising lately in Texas and 20 other states, according to Johns Hopkins University. Young adults are driving the increase in cases, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Texas A&M recently reported about a 10-percent positivity rate.

I know that wearing a face mask can be unpleasant and I'm like you, I keep forgetting to bring a mask as I approach a store and have to shame walk back to my car to retrieve one. I haven't been to an athletic event, but I'm certain that sitting for several hours wearing a mask can't be fun. But if we're ever going to kick coronavirus and return to the "old normal," we need to mask up.

Saturday night I watched the A&M vs. Vanderbilt game on TV. Every time the camera panned students in the stands … no social distancing and few masks. I don't know how other Southeastern Conference teams are enforcing coronavirus safety protocols. A&M was the only game I watched Saturday. From what I saw on TV, there was little enforcement.
You know, enacting a rule is one thing …

What would Ken do?

Last week, I had one of those "What Would You Do?" moments. I was in a supermarket, and a guy passed me with his mask down around his neck, like the Lone Ranger's kerchief, not over his mouth and nose.

Don't know about you, but this infuriates me. I don't care about your reason – "It's not a law! I think masks don't work! I am not a sheep! I don't like breathing my own carbon dioxide! I heard a doctor say it's unhealthy! – just wear the damn mask. Or shop online. Or send a friend to do your shopping.

Now I had two options during my supermarket visit: ignore him or confront him. I chose option three, I squealed on him to a supermarket employee. I come from a long line of cowards. The employee did tell the man to either pull up his mask or leave. The man didn't put up an argument and pulled up his mask. I'm thinking I may be related to the guy.

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