Western New York native Jessica Pegula is headed to the Olympics in Tokyo.
J. Pegula Olympic Games Tokyo 2020
Jessica Pegula has travelled the world playing tennis, and no matter where she goes, she always seems to run with someone from Buffalo or Western New York, or a Bills or Sabres fan.
And I think that’s Pretty Fantastic,” Pegula said of their widespread presence.
“I get to witness that, and it never ceases to amaze me. Sometimes when I’m at a sporting event, people will yell, “Go Bills!” or “Go Sabres!” It’s amusing how persistent they are.
The next stop on her meteoric rise to the top of her sport over the past seven months is Tokyo, where she will compete as one of six American women’s tennis players in the Olympics.
She hopes to meet a Western New Yorker, or at least a Bills or Sabres fan, while at the Olympics, despite the fact that Japan’s Covid-19 restrictions will severely limit the number of people inside the Olympic facilities and protocols will limit the athletes to the Olympic Village and training and competition venues. On Friday, festivities will officially begin.
A local town at heart, “it’s kind of wonderful that I get to keep that with me while I’m playing in different nations and all these foreign places,” Pegula said of Buffalo. It makes me happy to be able to bring tennis back to Buffalo and perhaps pique the curiosity of new fans.
One way in which Pegula’s tennis career has melded with the loyalty of Bills supporters is as follows: There are perhaps forty people spread over Italy who are part of the Bills Backers Club.
One of the group went to Paris for the French Open so he could watch Pegula play, and his first stop at Roland Garros was on Court 11, an outside court. Although autographs were forbidden per Covid-19 protocol, he was able to secure a socially detached photo and brought a Bills hat for her to sign.
Alessio Dascenzo, who tweeted the photo, explained that “the match was on a smaller court and I did ask her for a photograph.” “Very kindly, she helped me out a lot.
She thanked the crowd for their support and then left. … Being of Italian descent, I began watching the Bills in 1987. In Italy, there are a lot of Buffalo Bills fans, and we’re no different. Yes, Jess, and Victory to the Bills!”
Any Bills fan worth their salt will tell you to “Go Bills,” but it’s a little different when your parents control the team.
Despite the fact that most Western New Yorkers equate the Pegula family with Terry and Kim Pegula, owners of the Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres, Jessica’s family has extensive roots in Buffalo dating back well before the Pegulas’ ownership of the clubs in the last decade.
Mercy Hospital in Buffalo is where Jessica Pegula Entered the World.
At age 7, she began playing tennis, and after spending time in South Carolina receiving world-class instruction, she settled in Boca Raton, Florida, where she continues to train and compete.
Since her game is improving, she will have a great opportunity at the Olympics to further distinguish herself internationally.
A rapid rise up the Charts
Though Pegula has been playing tennis for a long time, she only recently realised that she could compete for the United States in the Olympics.
She had her sights set on making it to the WTA circuit, the highest level of professional tennis.
The Olympic Games don’t do much to boost the profile of tennis players in general. Their achievements at the highest levels around the globe have earned them widespread renown.
“I wasn’t really thinking about it until it got Postponed last year,” Pegula admitted.
It came on really suddenly, but now that I have it, I am really excited. Since then, I’ve had the satisfying ability to boast, “I’m an Olympian.”
Pegula, who turned 27 this past February, is now ranked No. 27 in the world in the WTA women’s singles rankings.
The year 2020 closed with her at position No. 62. For the first time ever, she entered a Grand Slam tournament this year as a seeded player (No. 28 at the French Open). As a result of her sudden rise up the rankings, she was given a shot at competing in the Olympics.
What a Fantastic Chance,” Pegula Exclaimed.
Given that it had to be rescheduled, I feel like I’ve earned this opportunity, and I think it’s going to be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I’m ecstatic that not only has this year been fruitful for me, but that the timing of the Olympics has also been perfect for me to participate.
Because of how competitive American tennis is and the fact that Serena and Venus Williams have been at the top of their game for so long, I consider it a great honour to have earned a seat on the U.S. Olympic squad.
Singles play for the United States begins on July 24 and will feature Pegula, Coco Gauff, Jennifer Brady, and Alison Riske. Beginning on July 25th, Pegula will pair up with Bethanie Mattek-Sands in doubles, while Gauff will partner with Nicole Melichar. The deadline for entries is August 1.
Following the Olympic Games, Pegula will begin preparing for the U.S. Open by defending the title she earned at the 2019 Citi Open in the Washington, D.C. region. This was her maiden singles trophy on the WTA tour.