Illinois native Caroline Dolehide has really come into her own in 2017. The former junior standout started the 2017 season ranked No. 347 in the world and has since steadily climbed the rankings, reaching a career-best of No. 159 earlier this month.
This year alone, the 18-year-old claimed two ITF Circuit singles titles, and advanced through qualifying to reach the second round of the US Open Series event in Stanford before falling to compatriot Madison Keys.
The Team USA member recently took time to talk to USOpen.org about playing in her home country, the camaraderie with her fellow Team USA members and how she looks to keep her momentum going into 2018.
USOpen.org: How does it feel to be back in New York?
Caroline Dolehide: It feels really nice. Last year I was here for a while because I played juniors as well. It’s awesome to be here, especially training here early. I got here a few days early, and I just love being in the city, love the crowds, love the court.
USOpen.org: What kinds of things do you like to do when you’re in town?
Dolehide: I like going to artsy food places, walking around, hanging out with all of my friends here. My mom and my sister are here as well, so I like taking them around, and I’m from Chicago, so I love the city.
USOpen.org: You’ve improved nearly 200 spots in the world rankings since the end of the year. What would you contribute your ascent to this past year?
Dolehide: Definitely following the little routines and the little stuff I do. Whether that be stretching, working with my fitness trainer before and after practices, working on the little shots to tighten up my game. All the hard work I’ve been putting in with my coach and my team.
USOpen.org: Would you consider cracking the top 100 ranking one of your goals this year?
Dolehide: Definitely, yeah. It’s been my goal since the beginning of the year, and I’m excited to see if I can do that.
USOpen.org: You are one of the leading Team USA 18-and-under players on the rise. Can you talk a bit about Team USA players and this young crop of Americans coming up?
Dolehide: There’s a lot of us. There’s a lot of girls my age, even. There’s a ton of boys, too, especially [at the USTA National Campus] in Orlando. We all work together, we all practice together, work out together, and it’s just really fun. I think everyone just loves being out there. Just having other girls and guys your age competing toward the same thing is really nice.
USOpen.org: Are there any of your compatriots that you lean on at tournaments?
Dolehide: Definitely I think the older girls, because just starting off coming to these big events – there’s a lot going on, and it’s nice to have older girls telling you have stuff works and leading you in the right direction.
USOpen.org: Who are some of the older girls that you look up to?
Dolehide: Definitely Allie Riske, Jenny Brady, Kristie Ahn, Grace Min … all those girls.
USOpen.org: Who do you think are some of the Americans to watch out for this year?
Dolehide: Definitely Kayla [Day]. Kayla is playing in the main draw this year. We’re trying for a wild card in doubles, which is exciting but nerve-wracking because we don’t know still. CiCi’s [Bellis] doing great, Top 50. So I’ll be watching them, supporting them.
USOpen.org: What are some of your goals for the end of this season?
Dolehide: Definitely to be up there in the Top 100, be main draw in WTA events, competing with CiCi and all those girls.
USOpen.org: What’s next for you?
Dolehide: Quebec City qualifier. Then I have a training block, then Linz, then Luxembourg, then preseason starts. I’m starting my preseason a little bit earlier. People usually start December, I’m starting Nov. 1. I had a longer preseason last year and it really helped me out because of all the hard training that I do. It’s definitely helpful.