NEW YORK -- World No.3 Jessica Pegula kicked off her US Open Media Day with a very good girl sitting by her side.
Pegula has been accompanied by a yellow labrador named Ace throughout her pre-tournament activities. Pegula has been using the opportunity to help train Ace as part of K9 for Warriors, an organization dedicated to providing trained service dogs to military veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and/or military sexual trauma.
12/10 a very good girl. Happy to be a part of Ace’s training and journey before she finds a veteran to call home 💕 https://t.co/AX5z2UZogX— Jessie Pegula (@JPegula) August 24, 2023
A champion at Montreal this summer, Pegula is the No.3 seed at her home Slam and has been drawn into the bottom half of the draw. She opens her tournament on Tuesday against the dangerous Italian Camila Giorgi. Pegula has won eight of their ten matches, but their last three completed matches have gone a full three sets.
"I don't feel any more confident than other times, to be honest," Pegula told reporters. "Again, tennis is so week to week. I won Montreal, then I got bageled and lost in Cincinnati. You're back to square one. Here we go again, what did I do wrong, what do I need to fix, what do I need to work on.
"I feel like I still have that same type of mindset. At the same time I think that helps me because it keeps me level-headed. That can be hard around a Slam when there's a lot of excitement. Hopefully I can use that to my advantage."
Recounting her pre-tournament schedule, Pegula admitted it's been a blur. From a kid's clinic in Harlem to an on-court exhibition for charity, Pegula has stayed busy. But she did get a chance to return to Buffalo to drop into the Bill's training camp and share some words of encouragement as the team readies for the NFL season to start.
Having grown up around professional sports while forging a path for herself in tennis, Pegula said there's just an unwritten understanding between elite athletes.
"I think at a certain level you're trying to do something great, and it's really hard," Pegula said. "I think I've always got caught up with trying to be the best player, but then also the best person you can be. It's so hard, especially in tennis, because you have to be so selfish and dedicate so much time. You get guilty. Then you still want to win, you're still trying to get better.
"That's the battle we're always battling with ourselves. I think playing on the big stage and competing and winning is the reward, but there's so much effort that goes in behind. It's such a mental grind that we can't take off. We just drive ourselves crazy a little bit, but you also kind of are addicted to that feeling. It's a weird space to be in. I think usually athletes at that high level can always relate to that."