After winning two singles matches and qualifying for her first USTA Women’s Pro Circuit $60,000 main draw, Fullerton’s Charlotte Chavatipon said she had zero expectations of what to expect facing longtime tour veteran and fellow Orange County resident Alexa Glatch.
“I just wanted the score to be close because she’s like really good,” said Chavatipon, after falling to Glatch 7-6 (9), 6-4, in the first round of the Henderson Tennis Open just outside of Las Vegas. “My goal at this tournament was just to qualify.”
The 17-year-old Chavatipon was just a toddler when the 30-year-old Glatch of Irvine turned pro at the age of 15. “I remember my friends talking about her saying, ‘Man, this girl was the next Cori Gauff’ when she was younger. I texted my friend that I was playing her idol Alexa Glatch and she texted me back that if I beat her I would be her idol.”
With easy qualifying wins over Jacqueline Cako (6-4, 6-4) and Mirabelle Brettkelly (6-2, 6-1), a top high school junior from Northern California, Chavatipon suddenly found herself in the same draw as name WTA players like Genie Bouchard, Kirsten Flipkens, Sachia Vickery and Caroline Dolehide.
“My coach gets mad when I drag my feet so I was just working on momentum,” said Chavatipon, who is home schooled and headed to the University of Texas in Austin next fall. “I didn’t really care if I won or lost, as long as I did that. When I do that it’s when I play well and I thought I played pretty well.”
Charlotte’s father Art Chavatipon said his daughter’s game has really improved since she began working with the USTA national coaches in Carson last year. Erik Kortland, his wife Maureen Diaz and James Ireland are Charlotte’s main coaches in Carson.
It was Art who first turned his daughter onto the game when Charlotte was just three years old and was bored just swinging and playing at the park. “He took me to Cal-State Fullerton and said, ‘Let’s try to play tennis,’ Charlotte recalled. “I had this huge 115-inch racket. I wanted to get a coach but he wouldn’t let me till I was 6 and I could hit every ball over the net.”
It wasn’t always easy on the father-daughter relationship. “We fought a lot when I was younger,” said Charlotte, whose mother Marilyn Carlos was raised in Guam and met Art while the two were undergraduates at UC-Riverside. “I remember one time I was crying and I went to another court and a policeman came over and ask me what was wrong.”
Chavatipon said she met Texas women’s coach and former Pepperdine All-American Howard Joffe at the French Open in April, and he sold her on the fact that she could still play events like the $60K Henderson Pro Open while still in school.
“He was the first coach that proved to me that they play pro events while in college,” Chavatipon said. “When I was 12 or 13 I was trying to go pro but then I realized my body and my shape needed to get stronger and I wasn’t ready for the pros yet.
Chavatipon said she plans to play all the Grand Slam junior events in 2020, and the Easter Bowl and Carson Grade B1 ITFs “because they are just down the street.”
Chavatipon said she recalled asking Joffe if he would rather her play the ITA All-American or an ITF $25K pro event while she’s at Texas. “He said if you are in the main draw, play the ITFs,” Chavatipon said. “It’s not really about the points but the level of play.”