For the doubles pairing of out tennis pro Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands and her tennis partner Nicole Melichar of the United States, the 2021 WTA season is off to a strong start. On Sunday the top-seeded pair won the title at the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, S.C. with a 6-2, 6-4 win over the unseeded Czech pairing of Marie Bouzková and Lucie Hradecka.
It was the second finals win of the season for the grouping dubbed “Team DemiNik”. Last month, they won the doubles title at the Qatar Open in Doha. Since becoming a team last fall, they have a 3-0 record in tournament finals and moved up to third in the standings for a spot in this year’s WTA Finals.
For Schuurs, the win is a continuation of what she hopes is an on-court partnership that extends beyond the present season. “If you just see our games, they fit with each other,” Schuurs said in a post-final interview with WTA Insider. “We’re just good friends, on-court and also off-court, and we practice together a lot when we’re on the road, and I think that’s an advantage.”
Schuurs is a doubles specialist who has seen success amid a revolving door of playing partners. From the start of 2018 through August 2020, Schuur was in 15 tournament finals in doubles, teaming up with 6 players, winding up with an 8-7 record.
That history was before teaming up with Melichar and winning the 2020 doubles final at the Strasbourg International. Both hope that this run of strong early results can foster a successful long-term partnership beyond 2021.
“You can put two good players together and that doesn’t necessarily mean they will play well together,” Melichar told WTA Insider. “I have certain strengths and she has certain strengths and we can combine them. So I think we really complement each other well.”
“I always played a maximum of one year with someone and now I found Nicole and she is the same age as me,” Schuur said. “It also feels like we want to see it as an investment, to invest and play maybe more than one year together, maybe, two, three, or four.”
Schuurs seeks the stability and comfort in competition that she has as a proud LGBTQ athlete off the court. She’s been out since she was a teenager, confidently visible as a touring pro, and built a growing fan base for her attacking style as a player and her realness as a person.
“I’ve had people writing me on Instagram, asking me how I got to be so comfortable with myself, or that they’re happy to have seen me on the court, because I’ve inspired them to come out to their parents,” Schuurs told reporter David Kane in a WTA Pride Month interview last year. “I think that’s really nice to be able to support younger fans who may be going through the same things I did. I remember the feelings I had when I came out, so I want to help younger people understand that they should be how they want to be, and show what they want to show.”
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