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From Alternates to Champions: The Story Behind Kenin and Mattek-Sands Winning the  Miami Open Women's Doubles Title

From Alternates to Champions: The Story Behind Kenin and Mattek-Sands Winning the Miami Open Women's Doubles Title

Sonya Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands were alternates in the Miami Open women’s doubles field. Now they’re champions. They were able to hoist the trophy after beating the second seeded team, Gabriela Dabrowski and Erin Routliffe, in a tight match, 4-6, 7-6, 11-9.

Both players have strong connections to Florida. Mattek-Sands has family and friends in Florida and will be celebrating this win with them. Mattek-Sands injured her leg in her prior match and was getting it examined and treated shortly before the Final. “I basically was going on pain today. Like if it was too painful to move. I was gonna have to accept that but I'm, I feel like I'm pretty tough at this stage of my career and everything I've been through. So it actually felt pretty good to have the adrenaline a little bit”, said Mattek-Sands.

She added, “Of course, you want to show up for the finals. And you know, we've had such a great couple weeks and it's just something that happens. I mean, it's just part of the journey. It's part of the challenges and you just got to kind of accept things as they are and do what you can and I feel like, you know, that's the mentality I kind of walked into after after getting injured the other night. But, Sonya’s clutch. I mean, her mentality is like, she's a fierce competitor, whether I was on the prowl somewhere or I was poaching at the net. You know, she knows what she wants to do out there and we really have a lot of fun playing together. I mean, there's good energy and our warm ups are good too and we have good energy off the court. And then we bring it when we compete.”

From left to right: Sonya Kenin and Bethanie Mattek-Sands. Photo: Adam Ross / Florida Tennis.

Kenin was born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida and was coached in her early years by Florida Tennis contributor and elite tennis coach Rick Maaci. He has called her one of the firecest competitors that he ever coached, even at an early age. After Mattek-Sands suffered a leg injury in their prior match Kenin thought her [Mattek-Sands] movement would be hampered. Kenin discussed her will for the team to overcome adversity and whether concern over Mattek-Sands’ injury played a part in her aggressive game plan. “I thought I've always had that [fierce competitiveness]. I feel like you know, the bigger the stage the more pumped up you gotta be and especially Bethanie, sometimes she's like, [telling me to] get pumped up. But I mean, she [Mattek-Sands] brought the energy you know, she really, you know, pulled me through there and you know, helped me out today. I mean, at times I wasn't playing the best today, but you [Mattek-Sands] got me through it.

Kenin, at 25 years old, is 14 years younger than Mattek-Sands, her good friend and doubles partner, and was prepared to do, whatever it took, to get the win. She added, “And I'm you know, I was obviously worried about [Mattek-Sands’] knees, you know, her little injury, but I'm super happy that she's feeling better. And I knew I had to take ownership and I was ready to cover her - whatever it took to be alive. If I have to run like a rabbit. Like I was ready to do that for you [Mattek-Sands]. I just wanted you to be careful. So I was like, I'll take it.”


Adam Ross is a contributing writer for Florida Tennis. He is a volunteer for the USTA Florida and the Vice-President of the Tennis Collectors of America/TCA. He welcomes your questions and comments at Top photo courtesy of Miami Open/Hard Rock Stadium. 

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