June 11th, 2018

Blog: Tennis Efforts by Stephens, Gauff, Min, Riske Display Exploding U.S. Women’s Talent

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French Open girls’ winner Coco Gauff

Florida players raked in the titles at the French Open in Paris, in the U.S., and in Britain last weekend as play concluded at Roland Garros, and Orlando pros who train at the USTA National Campus brought home hardware.

Fourteen-year-old Coco Gauff of Delray Beach won the French Open girls’ title, in the final beating 16-year-old fellow American Caty McNally of Cincinnati 1-6, 6-3, 7-6(1).
Gauff at 14 years, 2 months, 27 days old is the fifth-youngest French Open girls’ singles champion after Martina Hingis (1993, 12 years, 8 months); Jennifer Capriati (1989; 13 years, 2 months); Hingis (1994, 13 years, 8 months) and Gabriela Sabatini (1984; 14 years, 21 days).

Add these youngsters to the current group of WTA stars such as 2018 French Open finalist and 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens, French Open semifinalist and US Open runner-up Madison Keys, Australian and US Open semifinalist CoCo Vandeweghe, and two-time NCAA champion and Floridian Danielle Collins who just cracked the Top 40, and the future of U.S. women’s tennis is looking pretty bright — as in avert-you-eyes bright.

Consider that four of the last five junior Grand Slams have featured all-American girls’ singles finals, and Gauff in Paris last weekend was the fifth American girls’ champion in the last seven majors.

U.S. girls’ Grand Slam champions over the last 10 years:

2008: Coco Vandeweghe, US Open
2011: Grace Min, US Open
2012: Taylor Townsend, Australian Open; Samantha Crawford, US Open
2016: Kayla Day, US Open
2017: Whitney Osuigwe, French Open; Claire Liu, Wimbledon; Amanda Anisimova, US Open
2018: Coco Gauff, French Open

Stephens in the French Open final was a set away from winning a second Slam of her last three contested before falling to world No. 1 Simona Halep in three sets on Saturday.

“This run of success for American women, as evidenced by the incredible performances of Sloane, Madison, Coco and Caty at Roland Garros, has been years in the making, starting first and foremost with Serena and Venus Williams pulling thousands of girls into the game,” said USTA Player Development General Manager Martin Blackman. “The combination of their influence and leadership, great private sector coaches in the U.S and a comprehensive system of support that was established by Jose Higueras, Ola Malmqvist, Kathy Rinaldi and our USTA national coaches, has led us to this incredibly bright present and future.”
Gauff also reached the US Open girls’ final last year at age 13, making her the youngest girls’ singles finalist ever at the US Open.
After successfully qualifying to the main draw at the French Open and losing first round to Italian Camila Giorgi, 24-year-old Grace Min, who lives in Orlando and trains at the USTA National Campus, came back to the U.S. and won the $25,000 USTA Pro Circuit event in Bethany Beach, Del., on Sunday. In the final she defeated Coral Gables’ Katerina Stewart 6-4, 6-2 to win her first USTA Pro Circuit title of the year and improve to 10-8 in career finals.

Min was also runner-up at the USTA Pro Circuit stop in Daytona Beach in January. The 20-year-old Stewart saw her streak of five finals wins in a row on the USTA Pro Circuit come to a halt, dropping to 10-4 in career finals. She won in her other lone final of 2018 at the $15,000 event in Tampa. The Bethany Beach final was a rematch of the 2016 championship match at the $10,000 event in Orlando where Stewart won 6-4, 6-3.

Alison Riske won the first set off the world No. 1 Halep before eventually succumbing 2-6, 6-1, 6-1 in the first round of the French Open. The Orlando resident, who trains at the USTA National Campus, then hopped a flight to Surbiton, Great Britain, where she won the grass court title at the $100,000 ITF Women’s Circuit tournament in England.

Riske did not drop a set all week, in the final beating Switzerland’s Conny Perrin 6-2, 6-4, improving to 8-4 in career ITF/USTA Pro Circuit finals. Last month she was runner-up on clay at the WTA tour event in Nurnberg, Germany, falling in the final 7-6(4), 6-4 to Sweden’s Johanna Larsson. Sunday’s Surbiton grass court title lifted her to No. 63 on the WTA rankings.

This week the top WTA players are on grass for Wimbledon lead-up tournaments in the Netherlands at the Libema Cup in ‘s-Hergotenbosch and at Nottingham, Great Britain for the Nature Valley Open. Lower-ranked players will compete at a robust 15 ITF/USTA Pro Circuit events this week, the two largest of which are the $100,000 grass court event in Manchester, Great Britain, and the $60,000 clay court event in Hodmezovasarhely, Hungary.