Julia Cohen doesn't usually wear jewelry on the tennis court, but if she can find a Star of David necklace that feels comfortable enough, she says she'll wear it when she plays at the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y., later this month.
Cohen, 23, a native of Philadelphia's Fairmount neighborhood, will enter her first Grand Slam event as a wild card awarded by the U.S. Tennis Association, rather than gaining a spot through qualifying matches. She does not yet know whom she'll play in her first match.
"I've had a really good year, good results, some wins," Cohen said. "If I had had to play a qualifying match, I would have."
Ranked No. 101 among female players in the world, Cohen found her last match to be the biggest of her career. She advanced to the finals of the Women's Tennis Association Baku Cup in Azerbaijan, her first appearance in the finals of a WTA event, where she lost to Bojana Jovanovski in straight sets. After the defeat, Cohen briefly ascended into the top 100 of the WTA rankings at No. 97.
Tennis runs deep in her family. She trains in Florida and is coached by her brother Josh. He was an All American player at University of Miami and is now head coach of the Philadelphia Freedoms tennis team. Their father, Richard Cohen, is a member of the Philadelphia Jewish Sports Hall of Fame and, at 65, holds the top ranking among players 30 and older in the Middle States Tennis Association.
Growing up, Julia Cohen attended summer camps in Philadelphia led by Julian Krinsky, a South African-born tennis player who played at Wimbledon and also happens to be Jewish. The Cohen family now spends much of its time in Florida, but used to belong to Congregation Rodeph Shalom on North Broad Street.
"I went to synagogue a lot," she said, "and I'm so proud to be a Jew."