Who to Watch at US Open 2019 Part 2
There were some incredible matches yesterday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center (see the Comments on yesterday’s article for some updates)! On top of the tennis, the USTA unveiled a statue of Althea Gibson.
For those of you unfamiliar with this great icon of women in sport, Gibson became the first African-American tennis player, male or female, to win the title at the U.S. National Championships (now the US Open) in 1957. She was a trailblazer of great talent and greater courage, who overcame many obstacles while compiling a career filled with firsts. In addition to breaking the color barrier in tennis (1950), she was the first African- American to win singles titles at the French Championships (1956), Wimbledon (1957) and the U.S. Nationals (1957). In 1958, she repeated both her Wimbledon and U.S. wins. With her success, she became the first African-American to be named Associated Press Woman Athlete of the Year (1957 and 1958). Gibson won 11 Grand Slam titles in all, adding six doubles crowns to her five major singles crowns. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1971 and was inducted into the US Open Court of Champions in 2007. Amazingly, Althea Gibson was also the first African-American golfer on the LPGA Tour as well.
Now, back to the players on today’s Schedule of Play that I’ll be watching (via live-scoring and on ESPN) . . .
There are several former college players who are playing their First Round matches today, including a few names that should already be pretty familiar to you like John Isner (UGA) and Stevie Johnson (USC). A couple more may a little less well-known such as Tennys Sandgren (Tenn) and Danielle Collins (UVA). In addition to those four, I will also be keeping an eye on:
- Kristie Ahn: Kristie had an amazing career at Stanford University where she was an All-American and on the National Championship Team. The 27-year-old is currently ranked 141 on the WTA tour. She plays Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia today – they are 4th on Court 5.
- Brayden Schnur: This Canadian had an outstanding college career at UNC before turning pro right before his senior year. He’s 24 years old and currently ranked 92 on the ATP tour and will play France’s Benoit Paire on Court 7 today – they are the 4th match of the day on that court.
- Nicole Gibbs: I had the pleasure of watching this former Stanford star play her final US Open Qualies match on Friday where she lost in 3 sets. Fortunately, she still got a spot in the main draw as a Lucky Loser and will face 4 seed Simona Halep today on Louis Armstrong Stadium (they are 2nd on). The 26-year-old is ranked 135 on the WTA tour and is making her way back up the rankings after facing a rare mouth cancer scare earlier this year.
- Coco Gauff: I feel like y’all probably already know everything there is to know about this 15-year-old after her incredible run at Wimbledon earlier this summer. If you need more info, just open pretty much any website or magazine remotely related to tennis. She is even on the cover of Teen Vogue this month! Coco starts her US Open today against Anastasia Potapova of Russia on Louis Armstrong Stadium not before 3pm. I suspect it will be a full house for this one, so get there early if you want a seat!
- Diane Parry: This 16-year-old Wildcard from France is beginning to make some waves on the women’s tour. She has a current WTA ranking of 334 but is hoping to improve things over this next two weeks. Today, she plays 86th-ranked Kristyna Pliskova, twin sister of 3rd-seeded Karolina. They are last on Court 4.
- Katie Volynets: The Girls 18s Hardcourt Champion and Wildcard into the US Open has a tough ask today as she faces Canadian up-and-comer Bianca Andreescu. After seeing Katie win the title in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, though, I think she is up to the task. This is one of my most-anticipated match-ups of the day. They are 2nd on Court 10.
- Francesca di Lorenzo: Fran played two years at Ohio State before turning pro and continuing her coaching relationship with Ann Grossman Wunderlich (co-founder of the WTCA). She was awarded the 2018 Oracle-ITA $100,000 Grant and has been steadily climbing up the professional rankings, currently at 125. She faces Veronika Kudermetova, a 22-year-old Russian ranked 51 on the WTA tour. They are the first match on Court 15.
- Astra Sharma: The 94th-ranked 23 year old Australian played her college tennis at Vanderbilt and had an outstanding career there before turning pro. After today, she will have played in the main draw of all 4 Grand Slams in 2019. She faces Polish player Magda Linette on Court 15 following di Lorenzo’s match.