Sofia “Sonya” Kenin, the Pembroke Pines teen who reached the third round of the U.S. Open before losing to Maria Sharapova last week, has decided to turn professional.
Her announcement on Instagram was good news for her bank account, bad news for the University of Miami.
Kenin, 18, verbally committed to the Hurricanes last year, and signed a letter of intent with the UM program in early August, but it was contingent on her deciding to retain her amateur status. Before the U.S. Open, she had earned $56,000 this year, and was allowed to accept money only for her expenses.
She said before the Sharapova match that she was still weighing her options, but the $140,000 paycheck for reaching the third round and the fact that she stayed on the center court for nearly two hours with Sharapova before losing 7-5, 6-2 surely made her decision easier.
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She wrote on Instagram: “I'm so excited to announce that I've officially turned professional! Can't wait for what the future holds for me.. this is a new chapter in my life and I just want to thank you everyone for all the support.. It means everything to me.”
Kenin entered the Open as a wild card, and said she proved to herself that she can compete at the Tour level. Her ranking will go up from No. 139 to around No. 110. Sharapova was impressed with the teenager, who, like her, was born in Russia and moved to the United States at a young age.
“She had really nice words for me in the locker room, which was really nice,” Sharapova said of Kenin. “I wasn't surprised with the way she came out and competed. She was down a few match points in the previous match. She's a grinder. She'll get many balls back. Despite not having the experience, she's a tough player. She's played a lot of matches this year. She's moving up the rankings. So, I knew I had to be ready.”