No More Alarm Bells For US Tennis
Alarm bells have been ringing over the recent state of American women’s tennis for several years. Accustomed to dominating in the rankings, American fans seemed to collectively realize that an entire wave of players that included champions like Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati had retired or declined. The Williams sisters, 28 and 27 at the time, were left as the primary (and oftentimes, the only) representatives for a nation long known for its star athletes.
The question remained: Who would become their successors?
Fast forward a few years, and there are quite a few gutsy young players who are now ready to take up the mantle.
“I think American women’s tennis has come so far,” Serena said to Australian press, speaking of the recent rise of young American players. “We have so many options now, which is so great because for years I had to answer the question: I don’t know, I don’t know.”
The face of American tennis has changed drastically in just the past five years: There are currently 14 Americans ranked within the WTA’s Top 100, up from the mere five that featured there in 2010. Of the 14 current top ranked players, 11 of them are younger than 25 – in 2010, only two of the five players were younger than 25. The last time the United States had this many players ranked within the Top 100 was in 2005.
But beyond the amount of new faces to look forward to, the next generation of players has displayed consistency and their recent results give American fans a promise of even greater things to come:
Madison Keys, 20: Her standout performance at the Australian Open led Serena Williams to predict that Keys would eventually become a World No.1.
“I was really happy that she did well,” Serena said. “It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”
Keys beat Petra Kvitova and Venus Williams along the way to her first Grand Slam semifinal, where she lost to eventual champion Serena. This follows her breakthrough 2014 season, which saw her win her first WTA title in Eastbourne and break into the Top 30. She’s currently ranked No.20 in the world.
CoCo Vandeweghe, 23: She broke into the Top 40 of the rankings in 2014, a season which saw her win her first WTA title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch. She upset 20th-seeded Sam Stosur in the second round of the Australian Open before falling to Brengle in the third.
Madison Brengle, 24: Brengle ascended to the Top 100 in 2014. She started off her 2015 season by making her first WTA final at Hobart, then going on to upset 13th-seeded Andrea Petkovic in the first round of the Australian Open.
“I think it’s a great thing, especially for the young girls coming up,” said Brengle. “When I was younger, we had a really good group of Americans to look up to. I think that makes a big difference.
“I’m really, really optimistic with how American women’s tennis is looking.”
(Originally posted on wtatennis.com)