When you think of the 40-plus years of the Memphis Open, you recall the many “greats” to have graced the court, along with players who came to make their names known. In our “First Serve” series, we present to you the players you won’t want to miss at the February 11-19th tournament.
We’re serving up our first trailblazing player who has had his eye on the prize since he was old enough to hold a racquet. Frances Tiafoe, dubbed by many as the next “big” American tennis star, began his journey as the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone. His father was a custodian at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland, where Frances and his twin brother, Franklin could be found playing the game. At the age of four, Frances began training and by the time he reached the age of eight, he was working with tennis pro Misha Kouznetsov, who would become his coach and mentor.
At only 15 years old, Tiafoe became the youngest boys’ singles champion in Orange Bowl history. He later earned a wild card to play in the main draw of the French Open, becoming the youngest American to participate since Michael Chang in 1989. As a teenager, Tiafoe has also won the US Junior National Championship and has enjoyed success on the ATP Challenger Tour with 7 finals and 2 titles.
Fast forward to 2016, when Tiafoe was awarded a wild card into the US Open. There, he played against top-ranked American John Isner in the first round and won the first two sets, but eventually lost the match in a fifth-set tiebreak. In October, Tiafoe made his mark in the ATP Top 100 for the first time through his win at the maiden Challenger event at Stockton, defeating fellow American Noah Rubin in the final. He was the youngest player in the entire field. Tiafoe finished the year ranked at 108, making him the highest-ranked player born in 1998 for the second year in a row.
Most recently, Tiafoe, who turned 19 last week, won his first career Grand Slam match as a wild card at the Austrailian Open. Read more about his performance, as well as that of other Memphis Open players’ here.
Tennis fans can see Tiafoe, as well as the rest of our terrific player field, in-person with the purchase tickets to the 2017 Memphis Open- click here for ticket prices and information.
Check out Tiafoe in action and hear more about the player in our select videos below.