With the French Open going on this week, this is just another way for us to see the decreasing state of American tennis. In general, tennis is still thriving across the globe and throughout pop culture. Yes, tennis is still enjoyed by large numbers of Americans as a casual activity, but at the top level it is truly seen that Americans are not up to the level of standouts from around the world. This is particularly the case on the men’s side. At the same time, with Americans not being competitive in the majors, they are not even tuning in to watch the huge matches. There is no longer a John McEnroe or Chris Evert worth watching. So, are there any up-and-comers to present some hope that American tennis will get to where it used to be? Well, on both the men’s and women’s fields, there are a few that have a shot at breaking into the elite. On the men’s side, there is:
Without a doubt, the top American male player currently is Isner. Coming in at 6’10”, Isner boasts one of the best serving games on the tour. The right-hander is currently ranked 11th in the world, but still has a ways to go to catch Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. In order for him to make the next leap, he must improve his ability to get breaks and make the jump to being competitive in the majors. In this year’s French Open, Isner once again bowed out before the quarterfinals, losing in straight sets to Berdych.
Sock is a player that has been on a steady rise since he got on the tour. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 75th in the ATP rankings. At 6’1″, he has been a phenomenon all throughout his tennis career. Living in the Midwest, I was able to see his dominance first hand as he steamrolled through the competition at Blue Valley North High School in Kansas. Sock went 80-0 and recorded four state championships during his stay there. With a strong forehand and solid all-around game, I think in a couple of years, Sock may be making a name for himself on the national stage. As for his French Open performance, he won two matches before losing to Lajovic for a spot in the fourth round.
The women’s side also includes some talented youngsters. You already know about Serena Williams’ greatness, but here are some up-and-coming ladies:
Although she doesn’t always show up in some of the smaller tournaments, Sloane truly shines in the Grand Slams. The 21-year-old comes in at 19th in the WTA rankings and is looking to nab that first Slam having already made four semifinals. If you want to know the name of a woman that could eventually be the one to be the best in the world, it could be Sloane Stephens. She’s already beat Serena once in a major and is playing good tennis this year in the French Open. A spot in the quarterfinals is open to her if she can knock off Simona Halep.
Townsend is relatively new to the pro tour having joined in November of 2012, but is gaining the attention of American tennis fans quickly. She is only 18 and possesses a great left-handed game. Taylor made her Grand Slam singles debut at this year where she had a remarkable performance in making it to the third round of the French Open. Of the two matches she won, she defeated 65th ranked American, Vania King, and 20th ranked Frenchwoman, Alize Cornet, before falling to 14th ranked Carla Suarez Navarro. This was even done on the clay court from Roland Garros, while Townsend has been said to enjoy playing grass more.
American tennis is not what it used to be. There is no questioning this claim. Americans aren’t performing at the rate of those from around the world and fans at home aren’t tuning in as frequently. With this said, these Americans I listed above along with a few others represent the future of American tennis.