|CiCi Bellis slugs a backhand during her victory over|
49th-ranked Shelby Rogers in the second round of
the recent U.S. Open. Photo by Paul Bauman
She came close, though.
Bellis, 17, of Atherton in the San Francisco Bay Area announced the move today on Twitter, adding that she has signed with IMG to represent her.
Bellis recently gave Stanford, a five-minute drive from her home, a non-binding verbal commitment for the fall of 2017. However, she said at the time that she would turn pro if she reached the top 100.
Bellis jumped from No. 158 to a career-high No. 120 by advancing to the third round of the U.S. Open as a qualifier two weeks ago.
"I think the deciding factor was seeing that I was able to consistently compete at the WTA level," Bellis, who now can keep the $140,000 she earned in the year's last Grand Slam tournament, wrote in an e-mail. "I still have a lot of work to do on my game, but love that I will be able to put all my energies into tennis now.
"I work very well with my current coach, Anibal Aranda, and he is with the USTA in Florida. I would not have been able to continue working with him if I had decided to go to college.
"Plus, I felt like I could go to college at any time in my life. It doesn't have to be on the right after high school timetable. I will miss being able to play on a team, but hope to make the US Fed Cup team some day."
In this week's $250,000 Coupe Banque Nationale in Quebec City on the WTA tour, Bellis will play her second straight qualifier, 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) Danielle Lao, for a berth in the quarterfinals. Lao, a former USC All-American, shocked third-seeded Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, a 5-foot-11 (1.81-meter) former prodigy from Croatia, 6-4, 6-2 in the first round. Lucic-Baroni is ranked 54th.
Depending on the outcome against Lao, Bellis will rise at least three to five more notches in Monday's rankings.
Bellis burst onto the international scene in the 2014 U.S. Open, overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the final set to shock 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the first round. Cibulkova had reached the Australian Open final that year, losing to since-retired Li Na of China.
With the victory, Bellis became the youngest player to win a main-draw match at the U.S. Open since Anna Kournikova, also 15, in 1996. Bellis lost to Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan in the second round but beat the 32nd-ranked Diyas last year in the second round in Miami. In between, Bellis ended 2014 as the No. 1 junior in the world.
Bellis reached her first WTA quarterfinal in the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford in July, upsetting No. 38 Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia in the opening round.
In the main draw of the U.S. Open, Bellis beat No. 65 Viktorija Golubic of Switzerland and No. 49 Shelby Rogers of Charleston, S.C., before losing to second seed and eventual champion Angelique Kerber 6-1 6-1.
Bellis, listed at 5-foot-7 (1.68 meters) and only 110 pounds (50 kilograms), has tremendous groundstrokes but needs to continue getting stronger. She has good pop on her serve for someone her size, but it's not a weapon.