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Teen Revolution

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Written by   123
1 month ago
Topics: Sports

It's been a long time since the professional tennis scene was shaken up by relatively unknown players who have taken the spotlight during the fortnight of a Grand Slam event.

This time it's the US Open, that takes place in Flushing Meadows, New York. This is the last grand slam of the calendar year. Unlike last year when matches were played without spectators, this time crowds have been allowed inside the courts.

Tennis is already a lonely sport, with the player doing everything on court alone left to their own devices to win matches. They feed off on the audience's energy to pump them up as they chase down balls to win points. Playing on empty stands, it was doubly challenging with no one cheering, or even jeering, them on.

So hearing the echo of applause and cheers have been very good, especially for the very young players who have caught everyone's attention as they kept advancing, beating even the most experienced of players, and former champions.

Specifically, the new darlings at the US Open are 18-year-old Emma Raducanu of Great Britain, and 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez, a Filipina-Canadian, who have powered their way through brilliant plays on their way to the Finals.

Teens Emma Raducanu (left) and Leylah Fernandez (Photo: Reuters)

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It was in 1999 when two teens also took the centerstage in the same tournament, and it was qualifier Serena Williams, then 17, who triumphed over Swiss sensation Martina Hingis, who was a year older.

Williams has become such a formidable force in women's tennis, romping away with 23 grand slam singles titles, and she is aiming to break some more records given the chance, even at age 40.

This year, it's Emma who's the qualifier, ranking number 150 in the world. Leylah, meanwhile, is ranked 73. After her semi-final victory over Greek Maria Sakkari, and when asked how pressured she was in winning the title, Emma laughed and said as a qualifier, she had nothing to lose so she might as well do her best and enjoy it all.

On the other hand, Leylah said she wanted to bask in her semi-final victory over No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, who fought tooth-and-nail to beat her younger opponent, and not think about Saturday's championship match until tomorrow.

It is quite refreshing to see young blood displaying incredible talent on court, and being grounded enough so things don't get to their head. Because winning a slam is a big deal, the euphoria can screw with very young minds and throw them off.

Enjoying both the game as they're competing, and the victories after, will go a long way for them to last in tennis. Grand Slam champions pocket millions of dollars, and depending on how the public embraces them, can open opportunities for sponsorships worth millions more.

Keeping their focus on the game, playing with the same intensity as they did when they were just starting, and being just as hungry to win without letting the wins get to their heads, will ensure longevity.

A tennis analyst dubbed Raducanu as Mulan, and Fernandez as Pocahontas. Both are Disney princess, both warriors with incredible strength, skills, and determination to vanquish their opponents.

It's very apt calling them as such, considering how young they are and the talent they've displayed throughout the fortnight.

Honestly, the tennis scene in the last couple of years hasn't been exciting, particularly among the women. Only Japan's Naomi Osaka created quite a stir in the past two years, as she bagged four Grand Slam titles. But the fame and pressure has gotten to her, and she's now battling with mental health issues.

Who am I betting on to win the US Open Women's title? Honestly, I would just love to watch a really exciting game, that isn't lopsided, and which will thrill spectators to no end. You know what I mean?

As tennis darlings, Emma and Leylah have their equal share of fans and it would be interesting to see whose side would be more raucous during the match. It's fantastic to see them have a variety of shots and plays, using their instincts, while enjoying the game.

Whoever hoists that trophy will surely be deserving, and the other who would have also made history should be motivated to do better the next time, and keep upping their game to have a shot in more slams to come.

Meanwhile, my only hope is for these young upcoming tennis stars to keep playing, entertain tennis fans in every game, win more titles, gain experience and learn lessons in every defeat, and stay grounded throughout their careers.

I would hate to see any of these girls turn into a Novak Djokovic, who has become obsessed with breaking records yet still not achieving the stature of the two gentlemen of tennis - Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal - which he really resents.

There is hope for the future of tennis. And the names Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez will be engraved in the hearts of fans. May they inspire more young girls to dream, set goals, work hard, and become a success.

Images, unless credited, are from Unsplash

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Avatar for zolabundance2
Written by   123
1 month ago
Topics: Sports
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