Finally! We have a feel-good story about the future of American women’s tennis.
14 year old Boca Raton resident, Madison Keys, beat 81-ranked Alla Kudryavtseva on Monday in the MPS Group Championships in Ponte Vedra Beach Florida, 7-5, 6-4. This was Madison’s WTA tour debut! She played her first professional match just last month in the Fort Walton Beach Challenger, losing in three sets to Ekaterina Bychkova. So I guess she’s a fast learner – and a good server. Her serve reportedly averaged 101 mph for the match, and she won match point with an ace. She’ll likely face top seed Nadia Petrova in the next round.
I love her explanation of how she started playing (via AP):
“I actually got into tennis because of Venus and Serena (Williams),” Keys said. “I was watching Wimbledon one year and Venus was playing and I really liked how she was playing but I also liked her outfit.
“I told my dad I wanted a dress like Venus’ and he said ‘only if you play tennis.’ So, I went to Walgreen’s, got a racket and started playing.”
Keys now becomes one of the youngest players in history to win a WTA tour match, with fellow-American Mary Jo Fernandez holding the record at 13 years, 7 months. Not bad company.
Click here for a (really!) interesting 2008 article chronicling Keys’s rise, including insight from Chris Evert, who trains with her at the Evert Academy.
And you gotta love this quote from the then 13-year-old Madison:
“I’m not the person who wants to stay on the baseline and rally crosscourt for 50 balls. You get into the net and you put it away.”
Alright, Madison! Let’s hope this volley-mad teen is having fun and staying healthy on court. We don’t want a WTA burn-out by age 17, but a new American star (eventually) would be fantastic.
Oh and be sure to check out the video from her press conference (click here.)