Tennis: US teen sensation Coco Gauff takes break from ASB Classic preparations to visit south Auckland club

US tennis star Coco Goff reached her first Grand Slam final this year and wants to go all the way in 2023.

The 18-year-old hopes a strong showing at next week's ASB Classic will help her get there.

But on Friday, Gauff took a slight detour from centre court to visit a south Auckland tennis club.

Coco Gauff celebrates.
Coco Gauff celebrates. Photo credit: Getty Images

It's not every day one of the game's biggest stars comes to your local court, but for the kids at Manurewa's Jellicoe Park Tennis Club, the chance to practice with Gauff was priceless.

It wasn't that long ago Gauff was a promising junior with dreams of playing on the biggest stage 

Now she's realising that dream, giving back to communities is a priority for the teenager.  

"Now that I'm here and able to maybe introduce some kids to tennis or help them keep playing tennis, is always something I'll advocate for," she said.

"I met a lot of great young talent today. I had fun and I hope they did too."

With the ASB Classic just around the corner, it's fair to say Gauff's preparation will step up in the coming days.

Auckland is the perfect place to prepare for another busy season, starting with the Australian Open. 

"When you're in a warm-up tournament, you want to get the touch matches and maybe the ugly wins out of the way before you get to the Grand Slams," Gauff continued.

"I'm happy that the lineup here in Auckland is strong. There's a lot of champions and Grand Slam finalists in the tournament."

That includes the likes of 2021 US Open winner Emma Raducanu and tournament director Nicola Lamperin expects the competition to be fierce. 

"There's nothing better than starting the year with a win," he said. "When I met with Coco and her family when they arrived, they made it clear that they were hoping to go all the way."

And after Friday's appearance, her family won't be the only ones hoping Gauff can claim a maiden win in Auckland.