NEW YORK -- British qualifier Lily Miyazaki, 27, earned her first main-draw victory at a Grand Slam on Monday, defeating Margarita Betova 6-3, 6-3 in the first round of the US Open. After a successful qualifying campaign that included wins over Daria Snigur and Viktoria Hrunkacova, Miyazaki is having a truly wild week in New York. 

"It feels amazing but also surreal to be at this stage of a Grand Slam," Miyazaki said. "I certainly wasn't expecting it going into this Grand Slam."

Get to know the self-described "data nerd" from the University of Oklahoma:

She's a late bloomer

Miyazaki spent most of the last few years playing primarily within Britain and on the ITF Tour. A regular sparring partner at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre, she's hit a few times with 2021 US Open champion Emma Raducanu there. 

She had no ranking at the end of 2018 but has steadily climbed. She came into the US Open ranked No.198, having played her first Hologic WTA Tour event just last year in Lyon. The US Open is just her second Slam main-draw appearance and her fourth tour-level tournament overall. 

"I've always loved tennis, just playing," Miyazaki said. "To be able to do it for a living is amazing. For me, the traveling, some other players don't like it as much but I've enjoyed every minute of it. It's been a slow, gradual rise up the rankings, but I've really enjoyed every milestone I've hit."

By qualifying and making the second round, Miyazaki has already guaranteed herself over $120,000 in prize money. 

She's enjoyed a truly cosmopolitan upbringing

Miyazaki was born in Tokyo, Japan before moving to Switzerland with her family. That's where she picked up tennis.

"My dad played recreationally and I have an older brother who joined a tennis club," she said. "He's two years older than me and when I was younger I would just copy everything he did. So I went to the tennis club and started lessons. I was five or six.

"I liked it from the beginning. In Switzerland I was fortunate to have a good coach and he told my mom that I should take it seriously. So I started there."

Her family moved to London when she was 10 and she's lived there ever since. In 2022, Miyazaki formally chose to represent Great Britain.

She chose the college route because she was undersized

Miyazaki played college tennis at the University of Oklahoma. She majored in mathematics. 

"In junior tennis I was definitely very small, quite weak," she said. "That's why I decided to go to college. Physically I wasn't ready. 

"Those five years really helped me. Even now my strength coach says I have a lot of work to do. I do a lot of work, just trying to get as physically strong as possible."

She has a master's degree

Miyazaki continued her studies at the University of Oklahoma and graduated with a master's degree in Management of Information Technology. 

As it turned out, tennis had something to do with that too.  

"I finished the undergraduate degree in three and a half years," Miyazaki said, "but since I was on the team, I had to start something to be eligible to play. So I started a masters. 

"I think to be honest, I would have wanted to do maths, but maybe I thought that would take too much time."

Miyazaki is fully focused on her tennis career now, but she's kept the door open to applying her degree professionally.

"I am quite interested in data and data science," she said. "Maybe when I'm done playing I could get into something related to sports and data because it's really big right now. But honestly, I'm not really thinking about that now. 

She hit with Belinda Bencic when she was nine years old

After earning her first Grand Slam victory on Monday, Miyazaki is set to face Swiss Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in the second round. 

As it turns out, Miyazaki has hit with Bencic before. 

"Actually funny, when I lived in Switzerland, I played her when I was about nine years old and she must have been about seven or eight," Miyazaki said. "I remember even back then she was taking the ball so early. Half-volleying, drive-volleying, everything. I expect a really tough match."