CINCINNATI — You’ll never guess what Caty McNally did Thursday after her thrilling tennis match with Serena Williams at the U.S. Open the previous night.
Besides taking a steady stream of calls and texts from friends and fans, that is.
“My phone is literally still blowing up,” the 17-year-old from Madeira told WCPO from New York.
“I went to Madeira all the way through my freshman year and all of my friends from school are all reaching out to me, all texting me, putting me on their social media accounts. All the people from my club that I play at, the tennis team at my school.”
McNally said she was going to use the day off before her doubles match to wind down and ... do homework.
Yes, homework. So much for the glamorous life of a professional tennis player.
McNally is taking online classes while on the women’s tennis tour.
“Going to practice a little. I’m going to get a massage because it was a pretty long match, pretty physical for me, then we’ll go back to the hotel and do some homework,” she said. “That’s pretty much the plan for the day.”
But McNally – and her fans back home – did plenty of celebrating after she won the first set from the all-time greatest women’s player Wednesday night. McNally tested the 37-year-old Williams before falling in a three-set, nationally-televised match that ended around midnight.
“We didn’t get back to the hotel until about 1:30 last night. I didn’t even fall asleep until 3,” McNally told WCPO, still excited the next day.
McNally said the match at the fabled 24,000-seat Arthur Ashe Stadium was a dream come true.
“Last night was amazing playing against Serena on Ashe at night. Just playing on that court has been a dream of mine ever since I was a little girl,” she said. “For it to finally come true is amazing.”
Steve Contardi, tennis director at Harper’s Point, where McNally’s mom works, said the whole place was cheering while watching on TV.
“Of course, today we’re all tired from staying up late watching the match and we’re all beat up because we feel like we’ve played every single point right along with it,” Contardi said.
“Just to get there and to see the way she handled it was just thrilling,” he said. “She stuck with that game plan and she almost pulled it off. We’re very, very proud of her.”
McNally said she was feeling the love from her hometown.
“It’s unbelievable how much support I get and especially from Cincinnati,” she said. “There’s so many tennis fans and everyone loves watching and I love the support.”
McNally said she planned to stay in the hotel Thursday night and watch her doubles partner, 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff, play her singles match on TV.
McNally and Gauff have a doubles match Friday. The pair won the junior doubles at last year’s U.S. Open, but they’re competing in the main draw this year in singles and doubles.
“I really get excited for doubles. Playing with Coco is awesome and we always have a really good time,” McNally said.
McNally had some advice for girls playing sports.
“I think it’s really important, especially when you’re young, that you have a wide variety of sports,” she said. “I played basketball also until seventh grade. And then I realized I wanted to play tennis more seriously.”
She also said it’s important to “play for yourself “ and not give in to pressure from others.
“I know for some people they can get put under a lot of pressure by their families in sports. I think it’s really important to play for yourself, have fun, and to enjoy the moment because you never know when it’s going to end,” McNally said.