Hold off on those obituaries for U.S. tennis. A strong showing by young Americans at the U.S. Open, led by 19-year-old Christina McHale's upset of No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli, is an encouraging sign for a sport that is supposedly in a domestic death knell. Busted Racquet takes a look at the teenage players who could become the next American tennis stars.
Christina McHale, 19, Englewood Cliffs, N.J. -- U.S. Open Result: Defeated Alexandra Wozniak and Bartoli (8), plays Lucie Safrova (27) in third round
The teenager has been steadily rising in the rankings throughout the year. Defeats of top players like Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Alisa Kleybanova and Daniela Hantuchova in the past six months helped wipe away the bad memory of blowing a 5-0 lead in the final set of her first-round match at the French Open. McHale began working with the USTA in January as part of the organization's new player development initiative.
Ryan Harrison, 19, Bradenton, Fla. -- Lost to Marin Cilic
For the record, we don't find anything wrong with Harrison's on-court histrionics. He's only 19 and others have done far worse on the court. You're going to get on the kid because he hates to lose? (Whether it helps or hurts his game is a whole other matter.) Harrison isn't big (his listing of 6-feet may be generous) but he hits the ball a ton, is quick on his feet and has the athleticism to win five-set matches. Within the next year, we should get a better idea of how bright his future will be.
Sloane Stephens, 18, Plantation, Fla. -- Defeated Reka-Luca Jani, plays Shahar Peer (23) in second round on Thursday
When the new WTA rankings are released the Monday after the Open, Sloane Stephens will make her debut in the top 100. She'll also be the youngest player to be ranked that high. Stephens is a power player who can be erratic at times, but when she can rein in her groundstrokes, she's capable of hanging around with the top talents in the game.
Jack Sock, 18, Lincoln, N.E. -- Defeated Marc Gicquel, plays Andy Roddick in second round
Last year, he won the U.S. Open junior tournament. This year, he took the USTA boys' 18 national tournament and earned a wild card into the main draw. People in the know think Jack Sock could be the first great American player since Andy Roddick, whom Sock will face Friday in the second round. Roddick and Sock both hail from Nebraska and the elder sees something in the kid. "He's full of piss and vinegar," Roddick said Wednesday night.
Madison Keys, 16, Boca Raton, Fla. -- Defeated Jill Craybas, lost to Lucie Safarova (27)
The youngest player in the women's draw was on the verge of becoming the youngest player to advance to the third round since 2005. She was up a set and a break on Safarova and though she'd eventually lose the second set, she kept her head and made it a match in the third. The toughness will come in handy as she tries to improve her No. 455 ranking over the next few months.
Coco Vandeweghe, 19, Ranco Santa Fe, Calif. -- Defeated Alberta Brianti, lost to Sam Stosur (9)
Maybe best known for being the niece of former NBA star Kiki Vandeweghe. Two quarterfinal appearances at the end of 2010 looked like a good harbinger for 2011, but Coco's game has stagnated a bit since. Her win against Brianti was her first in a Grand Slam. If she can keep improving, maybe they'll start referring to Kiki as Coco's uncle.