The future remains firmly bright for American women’s tennis as a group of exciting and talented young stars look to break away from the juniors tour to emerge as regular competitors on the WTA tour.
Caty McNally is one of the bright stars of American tennis right now. The 16-year-old is fresh from a memorable Roland Garros run where she made the final of the Juniors event. The final did not go her way and she would have been disappointed with the way the match unfolded, but McNally has the game, the attitude, and the mindset to make a real go of it as she comes close to some opportunities to play her trade on the WTA tour. McNally is a very intense individual out on the court. You rarely see her give much away in terms of her demeanor on court, but she has some exciting tools up her sleeve, which translates very well to a clay court. Her topspin forehand is very much similar to that of 2011 US Open champion Sam Stosur. The forehand side of McNally has a lot of work on it and the ball really does kick up on a clay court, but the American also possesses a wonderful backhand slice and alternates between backhand slice and a flat backhand quite frequently in her matches.
The 16-year-old also has great skills in the forecourt and can play a number of different types of volleys when given the time to execute her shots, which will put her in a good position to excel if she chooses to move from juniors into the professional circuit. With the right guidance and the right advice, McNally is a player that we may be hearing a lot of in the years to come.
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One well-known junior that has really dominated the ranks at junior level is Whitney Osuigwe. Osuigwe really came to prominence when she became just the fifth American to win the French Open juniors last year and is now the ITF World Champion and World No.1 junior, which further illustrates the calibre of player that America have on their hands right now. She has trained at the IMG academy since the age of six, where her father, Desmond, works, and she offers a very different kind of tennis to what McNally presents on the court. Osuigwe is a player that plays the percentages from the baseline, but her greatest asset is her tendency to play the right shot at the right time. She is a particularly smart player, but she has the effortless power to take the point into her own hands. In many ways, Osuigwe has similar endearing qualities to Sloane Stephens in the sense that she can glide her way around the baseline with little fuss and with not much effort, but has the power to unlock the defense of an opponent with a single shot. Osuigwe is touted as one of the best American talents in quite some time for a reason and her results on the juniors circuit is second to none.
Osuigwe has spent most of her young career so far defying the odds and has played much older opponents on her way upon the junior ranks and has dealt with the pressure of being the next shining light very well thus far. I think what is important and what has been important in Osuigwe’s development is that she has surrounded herself by winners and mixed with similar facilities to what greats like Andre Agassi, Maria Sharapova among many have used in the past. The American has really had the champions mentality engrained into her from a very young age and that is something that sets herself up for a very exciting and accomplished career for the next decade and more. Another significant aspect to Osuigwe’s tennis life is that she’s had people around her pushing her to do more, to go further to, to achieve more, which has benefited her greatly at this stage in her career.
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Osuigwe is a player that enjoys competition and always has. She thrives in the situation of achieving things for herself and being the last woman standing at the end of a tennis match with her arms aloft and that individuality and freedom she gets is something that drives her forward. It can be argued that it has hard to teach a young player into enjoying the competition, raising their game against adversity and standing tall against their foes, but Osuigwe is one of the juniors that likes the competitive nature of this sport.
Another young American that is starting to make serious moves on the juniors circuit is Cori Gauff. Gauff had to come through early heartbreak in tennis to really start swinging freely and spreading her wings on court as she lost a bitter US Open Junior final, winning just two games against fellow-American Amanda Anisimova in that final. The mental scars of losing those sort of matches can weigh heavy on the mind and on the shoulders of a player even from an early age, but Gauff put right the wrongs by claiming her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open this year–repeating the achievement of Osuigwe the year prior to it.
This ultimately is an exciting period for American women’s tennis, with plenty of great personalities on the up and looking to leave a permanent mark on the tennis world. It still remains to be seen whether these three players will be able to make that step up into the professional ranks, but what cannot be argue with is the fact that they are full of promise and could be one’s to watch in the near future.
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