Good news is breaking out all over for Western New York sports fans, who are only just now coming down from the high of Josh Allen leading the Buffalo Bills to the AFC championship game. The town now has a tennis star on its hands as Jessica Pegula has made a splash this week at the Australian Open.
Buffalo Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula are riding a high
The climb back to respectability was long, but the Buffalo Bills news lately has been positive. The last 15 years of the Ralph Wilson ownership era was the very definition of mediocrity, with one playoff appearance followed by 11 seasons of between six and nine victories and no trips to the postseason.
The situation didn’t improve immediately once Kim and Terry Pegula purchased the Bills from Wilson’s estate in October 2014. However, the tide turned in 2017 as new coach Sean McDermott and GM Brandon Beane took the franchise back to the playoffs. They returned to the postseason in 2019 and made it to the AFC championship game last month for the first time since the 1993 season.
The future looks promising, too. Quarterback Josh Allen took a huge step forward in his third season, bolstered by the acquisition of receiver Stefon Diggs. Beane has been credited with sound drafts and shrewd mid-level signings in the free-agent market. The Bills go into the NFL draft with a nearly full complement of draft picks.
If the Pegulas could get their other big investment – the NHL’s cellar-dwelling Sabres – in gear, sports fans in Buffalo would be ecstatic. As it is, however, Jessica Pegula has become a bright spot on the scene.
Jessica Pegula has roared into the tennis spotlight
Buffalo Bills owners Kim and Terry Pegula have three children, and one is making big news this week on the international tennis scene. Daughter Jessica Pegula, 26, has scored a pair of noteworthy victories in tennis’ Australian Open to advance to the third round.
Pegula, a Buffalo native ranked 61st in the world by the WTA, opened play with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over Victoria Azarenka, ranked 13th and a two-time winner of the grand-slam event. On Thursday, Pegula required just 50 minutes to wallop 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, 6-0, 6-1.
That victory advanced Pegula to a weekend matchup with France’s Kristina Mladenovic, who is ranked 52nd. Pegula scored a 6-4, 6-1 win over Mladenovic two weeks ago in the Yarra Valley Classic, an Australian Open tune-up in Melbourne.
Winning the rematch would likely send Pegula up against fifth-ranked Ukrainian Elina Svitolina in the round of 32. Svitolina was able to grind out a 6-4, 6-3 win when they met a month ago in the Abu Dhabi Open.
Jessica Pegula has carved out a solid career
Jessica Pegula, the daughter of the Buffalo Bills owners, played college tennis at the University of Pittsburgh and began reaching the main draw of WTA events in 2012 while also playing a steady schedule of International Tennis Federation tournaments.
She earned her first top-100 ranking in the world in 2019, climbing as high as 55th and finishing at No. 76. That summer, she earned her first tournament title by beating Italy’s Camila Giorgi, 6-2, 6-2, at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
In January 2020, she beat Caroline Wozniacki in the semifinals and took on Serena Williams in the championship match of the ASB Classic in New Zealand. Williams won, 6-3, 6-4.