Monica Puig has had a difficult year at the Grand Slams, falling early in Melbourne, Paris and London, but she remains confident that success is just around the corner.
WTA Staff

STANFORD, CA, USA - This week WTA Rising Star Monica Puig will get a fleeting look at college life when she makes her debut at the Bank of the West Classic.

The tournament, which marks the start of the North American hardcourt season, has been held at Stanford University's Taube Tennis Center for the past four decades, and Puig is eager to get a glimpse into a world that passed her by.

Before professional tennis intervened, Puig seriously considered enrolling at university, with Stanford towards the top of the list of desired destinations.

"First of all, I love California - it's one of my favorite places to come to," Puig said. "I was thinking of coming to school here back when I didn't consider a professional career. This school is amazing and it's amazing to be here and to see what it's like."

However, Stanford's loss was the WTA's gain. Since leaving the junior ranks in 2011, Puig has rapidly climbed the senior ladder, breaking into the Top 50 last August and picking up a maiden title this spring, in Strasbourg.

The combination of wins on the court and a winning personality off it have seen the Puerto Rican rapidly carve out a reputation as one of the WTA's brightest young talents. She does not turn 21 until September and, alongside Simona Halep, Eugenie Bouchard, Sloane Stephens and several others, is helping a new generation make their mark on the tennis landscape.

"I think we all believe we belong on the same court as the big names," Puig said. "Obviously they're going to kick our butts sometimes - that's acceptable! - but we still have the mentality that we have just as much right to be there as they do.

"It's going to happen, there's going to be a generation change and it's happening now. Eventually we're going to be the established ones and there'll be another set of new upcoming players that are going to be challenging us."

A few of Puig's peers have already tasted success on tennis' grandest stages, with Halep and Bouchard both reaching major finals in recent months. Puig, meanwhile, has struggled, falling early in Melbourne, Paris and London, although she remains confident that her time will come.

"Everyone has their time to shine. The first three Grand Slams weren't my time. But I'm working really hard, so maybe the US Open will be my time," she added. "I'm a work in progress. It's a long career and I'm not looking to get there really fast - I just want to learn along the way.

"It can be difficult if you're the same year and they're doing much better than you at that moment. A lot of the young girls this year were winning WTA titles and I was thinking, 'Come on, Monica. It can't be that hard! You need to do this.'

"But, as I said, everybody has their time and I know I'm a late bloomer because this happened in the juniors. It took me a while before I knew and understood what I was doing. But when I got there I stayed there and was a top junior. So now I'm doing the same in the pros, getting my game ready to push forward."