by Nicholas McCarvel
Photo by Paul Drinkwater/NBC
After her magical run at the US Open, 18-year-old American Vicky Duval is beginning to get more comfortable on tour and this week plays the BNP Paribas Open for the first time. Here she talks about sitting down with Jay Leno, her love of Spongebob, her off-court dreams and more.
BNP Paribas Open: You picked up a great win last week in Acapulco. Are you starting to feel a little bit more stable now that you’re 18?
Vicky Duval: A little more normal, yeah. It’s not easy at any stage to try to climb up the rankings, but I’m doing it slowly but surely and enjoying the process.
BNP Paribas Open: The US Open this last year was such a whirlwind for you, but how cool was it to be on Louis Armstrong Stadium and have that big win over Sam Stosur?
Duval: It was unbelievable. When people talk about it I’m like, “Did I really do that?” But it gave me so much confidence. I think that’s what helped me start out this year pretty well.
BNP Paribas Open: You even got tweets from Lil Wayne and Amar’e Stoudemire, so that has to be pretty surreal.
Duval: I didn’t have Twitter when people were telling me, and I made a Twitter account after that. When I saw that I was like, “Oh my god, this is not happening!” It was an unbelievable experience.
BNP Paribas Open: What was probably the most surreal moment?
Duval: I would probably say Jay Leno after the U.S. Open. I was sweating so much before I went on, and he was like, “You’re going to be fine.” I had three people calming me down.
BNP Paribas Open: To get serious for a minute, you’ve obviously had to work really hard to get as far as you have. You were just outside the top 500 in 2012, and now you’re in the top 150. What has been the work for you behind the scenes that we aren’t seeing?
Duval: I think I’ve matured a lot. You can work as hard as you want, but if you’re not working smart it doesn’t do anything. I’ve had a lot more motivation since I lost a whole year to injury, from summer of 2011 to 2012. I felt like I needed to work double, but I’m working smart.
Read more about Vicky’s love for SpongeBob, her moment with Kim Clijsters and more AFTER THE JUMP.
Photo via Vicky Duval
BNP Paribas Open: OK let’s be no serious again. So is your affinity for SpongeBob still raging?
Duval: [Laughter.] I cannot escape this question ever! Just look at my Twitter page and it’s still there. I think everyone loves Spongebob.
BNP Paribas Open: What about Vicky Duval wearing a SpongeBob outfit on court?
Duval: Oh my gosh, amazing!
BNP Paribas Open: Go back even further from the Stosur match. You got to play Kim Clijsters on Authur Ashe Stadium. That was pretty crazy.
Duval: That was probably the best experience I’ve ever had. The Stosur match was amazing too, but opening night on Arthur Ashe Stadium was great. I think that match helped me for Stosur, so it didn’t feel as overwhelming. I was thinking about the Clijsters match as I was going out. It was a similar atmosphere, so I was a little more prepped.
BNP Paribas Open: What about “Vicky Duval: The Musical”? What would that look like?
Duval: First of all, there would be a ton of colors! We would be playing Beethoven, and Spongebob would be the main character, clearly.
BNP Paribas Open: What are other things that you keep yourself busy with?
Duval: Drawing a lot. But I’m super busy because I just finished high school and I really want to go into engineering, and I’m going to take classes towards the end of summer. I’m looking into Biomedical Engineering.
BNP Paribas Open: Wow! Sounds awesome. Thanks for chatting with us, Vicky.
Stephen Villatoro contributed to this post.