Jessica Pegula on the rise at the US Open after her mother’s health scare this summer

Jessica Pegula returns a shot during her third-round win over Yuan Yue at the US Open on Saturday. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Associated Press)

Not only is Jessica Pegula the highest ranked American tennis player – and now for the first time in the round of 16 at the US Open – but her parents own the Buffalo Bills.

As the Bills prepare to open the NFL season against the Rams on Thursday night, Pegula reached new heights in his tennis career, beating Chinese qualifier Yuan Yue 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-0 on Saturday at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

This starts a round of 16 match against Petra Kvitova, who beat Pegula in the third round of the 2020 US Open.

“I think I’m a much better player now than when I last played it,” said Pegula, 28. “Again, I don’t really know – I mean her, I know how she plays her but you never really know how she is going to be together.

Pegula’s parents, Terry and Kim, own the Bills and Buffalo Sabers. Jessica wears a pair of beaded bracelets, one blue and red for the Bills, the other blue and yellow for the Sabers. Unsurprisingly, she is an enthusiastic fan of both franchises.

These have been difficult months for the Pegula family, who announced in mid-June that Kim was being treated for an unspecified health problem.

“We are very grateful for the progress he has made in recent days,” the family said in a June 14 statement. “You have an exceptional team of medical experts at your side. We ask you to keep Kim and our family in your prayers and to respect our need for privacy ”.

Two weeks later, the family released another statement that Kim was “progressing well” and “resting and rehabilitating” from the health problem.

Buffalo Bills co-owner Kim Pegula talks to a colleague before a game.

Kim Pegula, co-owner of the Buffalo Bills, talks to a colleague before a game between the Bills and the New York Jets in September 2019. (Bill Kostroun / Associated Press)

Jessica Pegula has indicated in subsequent interviews that her mother is on the mend.

In May, three weeks before her health problem was announced, Kim Pegula spoke to the Times about what it was like to raise a world-class tennis player.

“We call it our first sports team,” Pegula’s mother said at NFL meetings on May 24 in Atlanta. Because without us knowing the future of owning the Sabers, the Bills and all these other teams, it really was our first opportunity to really understand as a parent what it means to want to be a professional player. The time, the effort, the things she gave up as a child. Oh my God.

“He’s 28 now; she started at 7. I haven’t done anything with determination for so long, in so many years. Now, seeing it actually shine through in all of this success has been very satisfying.

“As much as the parents are, we have been supportive. We took her there, we bought the racket, we took the lessons and things like that. But if it wasn’t for her. … It’s a single sport. It’s on her. For her to have spent so much time … and we’re seeing him play now. “

Those championship matches took place during the French Open, when Pegula – who goes by the name of Jessie – moved on to the quarter-finals. Her parents followed her games by glancing at their phones during meetings.

“We are following the score and the ball when it is serving and all,” said Kim Pegula, 53, at the time. “I’m a little more nervous than my husband, so he’s staring at the phone. I’m like, ‘Just tell me after the set is done.’ It’s more point by point. I’m more like, OK, end of the first set, end of the game. “

What about when the Pegulas realized their daughter was extraordinarily talented?

Jessica Pegula returns a blow to Yuan Yue during Saturday's third round match.

Jessica Pegula returns a blow to Yuan Yue during Saturday’s third round match. (Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / Associated Press)

“My husband and I disagree,” she said at the time. “He says he knew from Day 1 and I’m like, ‘Oh, come on. You didn’t really know. ‘ Between 7 and 20 so many things can happen.

“I think there have been a few games during his career where you can see he is there. Now he’s just trying to get that consistency on a consistent basis to actually get it right. We have seen it periodically in several games that she would play, just saying that she can play with any of these women who are ranked in the top: first they were the top 50, then the top 20, then the top 10.

Pegula is classified n. 8 among women, the tallest of any American player. The American man with the highest score is Taylor Fritz at number 12.

“When she was younger and we moved to Hilton Head (SC) and she wanted to play tennis, you know, you brag about your son,” Kim Pegula said in May. “People were asking and we were like, ‘Oh yeah, she wants to be a pro.’ Everyone thinks you’re just bragging about your child.

“So now I’m like, ‘Wait … I just saw her on TV. She is really good.’ So it’s a nice little satisfaction for those who knew us when she, she knew her when she was younger. She just had this dream. It’s fun to see it come to life ”.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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