US Open darling CiCi Bellis' latest fairytale run in New York has seen her earn a whole new army of fans and enjoy some unexpected off-court perks.
WTA Staff

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Two summers ago a 15-year-old CiCi Bellis captured the imagination of the New York public by becoming the youngest player in nearly two decades to win a match at the US Open.

Back at Flushing Meadows, she is once again the talk of the town, producing some fearless tennis to make her way through to the third round. The prize money for reaching this juncture - where she will face No.2 seed Angelique Kerber on Friday evening - is $140,000. However, the American, who has verbally agreed to accept a tennis scholarship to Stanford University, must forfeit these winnings if she is to maintain her college eligibility.

NCAA rules do permit money for travel expenses, providing the Californian with some welcome perks: "I just moved up to a regular suite," she said after her second-round win over Shelby Rogers. "Maybe the presidential suite this time."

Bellis is sure to receive overwhelming crowd support when she steps on Arthur Ashe to face Kerber. Among their number will be one particularly vocal contingent, who have followed the 17-year-old every step of the way since her run began in last week's qualifying competition.

"They came out to first-round qualifying and have been to every single one of my matches since," Bellis added. "One of them messaged me on Instagram and asked for tickets, and so I got them into my box today. Oh, my God, they call themselves Team CiCi, so it was fun.

"I think [the support] puts me in a different world. I feel like I'm not even here when I hear people like that group we are talking about. It's surreal to me."