The Time is Now for MA’s Whoriskey
James Maimonis, Communications and Engagement Coordinator | September 7, 2016
SANDWICH, MA- Sometimes all it takes is a little good advice and a slight modification to your game to turn your tennis career around. WTA Tour player Caitlin Whoriskey, 28, from Sandwich, MA, was ready to call it quits earlier this year, but after speaking to Chris Woodruff, former Australian Open quarterfinalist and men’s varsity coach at her alma mater, the University of Tennessee, she found a new outlook on tennis.
“I was thinking about hanging up my racquet, but Chris told me he didn’t think I should quit and to focus on doubles. He said to give it a year and give it 100 percent and see where I’m at,” Whoriskey said.
As a junior player, Whoriskey developed her game throughout various Massachusetts clubs, but by the time she was 12, her coach saw how quickly she was improving and suggested a move to Florida to pursue tennis full time. ADVERTISEMENT After a serious talk with her mother, the two, along with one of her sisters, made the life-changing move down south. There, she enrolled in the Evert Tennis Academy and soon after became one of the top juniors in the country.
Following high school, one coach suggested Whoriskey turn pro immediately, but she felt she wasn’t completely prepared mentally or physically. She enrolled at the University of Tennessee and began her collegiate career unranked. By the time her senior year rolled around, Whoriskey improved to the point where she held a No. 1 NCAA doubles ranking and reached No. 6 in singles.
She turned pro upon graduation and achieved a high singles ranking of No. 268 in the world in May 2015 and climbed to No. 192 in doubles by the end of the year. Taking the advice Woodruff gave her, she began focusing her efforts on improving her doubles game.
“I’m a lot more focused in practice now and I work on more serve-and-volley type plays. I try not to worry about singles too much anymore and it’s really helped take the pressure off,” Whoriskey said. “My singles matches are more of a tune up for doubles, and I can really work on a lot of things there. It’s all really given me a lot more confidence.”
Whoriskey has been playing primarily with partner Ashley Weinhold (Tyler, TX) since February 2015. They have seen a recent spike in performance dating back to this past spring, when the duo decided to switch sides on the court. Whoriskey previously played on the ad court but experimented with the deuce side with various partners during a stint while Weinhold was absent.
Since June, the pair has won three titles, and Whoriskey’s doubles ranking has skyrocketed. She is currently ranked No. 160 in doubles and is playing the best tennis of her career.
“Ashley is very professional, and I’ve tried to imitate her over the past few months in everything she does, and it’s helped me become a better player,” Whoriskey said. “I’ve been planning my days better, stretching after matches, and keeping a notebook on opponents and improvements I need to make for upcoming matches.”
She added, “Ashley and I have good relationship where if something is wrong with one another, we know how to motivate or coach each other through it. No one gets upset at criticism because they know it’s for the greater good of the team.”
Throughout the last week in August, Whoriskey and Weinhold competed at the US Open National Playoffs during the Connecticut Open at Yale University with a spot in the US Open doubles draw on the line. They kept their summer momentum going as they rolled all the way to the finals, but ran into fellow Americans Jacqueline Cako and Danielle Lao who ousted them 2-6, 5-7. The Cako/Lao pairing also took down Whoriskey and Weinhold in the semifinals of their previous tournament in Texas.
“We were pretty confident going into the playoff. We’ve been playing well all summer and we had a high expectation,” Whoriskey said. “Each match we played well, but we got outplayed during the last match. Cako and Lao played a smart match and took us out of our game a bit, so it was really tough after the defeat.”
Fortunately for Whoriskey and Weinhold, they played themselves into first alternates for the US Open doubles draw with their success this summer and in the National Playoff. And in a stroke of luck, one team lost a player last minute and her partner was unable to find a replacement in time, opening the door for Whoriskey and Weinhold.
“We’re so relieved we snuck in, especially since we had hoped to be there originally. We were upset after New Haven and had a good summer and felt we deserved to play here,” Whoriskey said.
Whoriskey and Weinhold played well, but ultimately fell short in the first round against No. 10 seed Monica Niculescu and Vania King, 2-6, 7-5, 5-7. Their goal now is to keep grinding and achieve top-100 status.
“I think Ashley and I can make it pretty high in the rankings. We’re right on the bubble now for some WTA tournaments, so we need to save up a little more money to travel, and if we move up a few spots, we’ll have the opportunity to compete a lot more. Once we’re in those tournaments, I think we’ll do fine,” Whoriskey said.