The Miami Open continues tonight, and Virginia fans may recognize a familiar face. No, not Venus Williams...her opponent. Danielle Collins, former Virginia Tennis standout and two-time NCAA singles national champion (2014 and 2016), has ridden a hot streak and is one of eight remaining athletes in the prestigious event.
Now up to the No. 93 singles player in the World Tennis Association’s rankings, Collins qualified for the Miami Open with wins over No. 227 Tereza Smitkova and No. 102 Jana Cepelova. In the first round, Collins triumphed over No. 37 Irina Begu in straight 6-1 sets.
Collins drew one of U.S. tennis’ bright young stars in the second round with No. 16 Coco Vandeweghe. This was Collins’s first match to go into three sets, with Danielle winning the first 6-3, falling 6-1 in the second, and storming back with a commanding 6-1 win in the third and decisive set.
Next up, Collins faced No. 55 Donna Vekic - who upset No. 24 Elena Vesnina - in the third round. Again, the match went to three sets, but this time Collins dropped the opening set 6-4. She bounced back and won the next two sets 6-2 and 6-1, respectively, to earn a rematch with No. 82 Monica Puig. At the Indian Wells Masters in early March, Puig easily defeated Collins in straight sets, 6-0, 6-2. This time, Collins got revenge. She dropped the first set 6-3, but evened it up with a 6-4 win in the second. Collins won the third set 6-2, firing off four aces and winning 71% of her first serves.
Puig defeated No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki in the second round, giving Collins a chance to avoid a matchup with one of the best tennis players in the world. Now, Collins will have to go up against No. 8 Venus Williams (you may have heard of her) in the quarterfinals. Williams cruised through the first two rounds before needing three sets to beat No. 29 Kiki Bertens and No. 11 Johanna Konta.
For Collins, tonight’s match is a chance to face a player she idolized growing up. According to a New York Times story that ran this morning, Collins, who grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida, imitated both Williams sisters and used them as inspiration to grow as a player and come into the professional ranks from public tennis courts.
Collins is confident in her game right now, stating “This is my time,” after her win over Puig. She will take the court tonight at 7pm on ESPN2 against Williams with a chance to make a splash in the tennis world.