Local tennis star continues rise up the world tennis rankings
BY MATT LEVISS
Local Prince George’s County tennis star, Frances Tiafoe, is now a top 10 player in the world after winning the Boss Open in Stuttgart, Germany, according to the men’s Association of Tennis Professionals rankings.
Born in Hyattsville to immigrants of Sierra Leone, Tiafoe began playing tennis when he was just three years old. When Tiafoe was 5 years old, his father enrolled him and his twin brother in the Junior Tennis Champions Centre in neighboring College Park, where Tiafoe’s father was the head of maintenance. Tiafoe began his professional career in 2015, at age 16, at the nearby Washington Open.
He first made major headlines back in 2022 during the U.S. Open. Tiafoe reached the semifinals of his home nation’s grand slam tournament, taking down then second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the process.
Overnight, he became the face of American tennis, receiving praise on Twitter from NBA star Lebron James, along with other notable celebrity and sports figures, following his victory over Nadal.
Now, age 25, Tiafoe is ranked No. 10 in the world by the ATP Tour Singles Rankings, making him just the third Black American in history to hold that spot, joining James Blake and legend Arthur Ashe.
Tiafoe’s latest win at Stuttgart was not the only contributing factor to his placement in the upper echelons of international men’s tennis. He is currently 27-9 in 2023, with tournament wins at Stuttgart and at Houston back in April.
In a comment to CBS, Tiafoe’s coach, Komi Oliver Akli, said, “Top 10 is just a number. If you don’t win any Grand Slams, no one is going to be like, OK, Tiafoe is Top 10. Nobody is going to remember that number.” Akli’s remarks reflect Tiafoe’s ambition on the international tour.
Before the most recent rankings, Tiafoe was ranked 12th, but jumped two spots over Russian Karen Khachanov and Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime following the Boss Open. This keeps Tiafoe as the second ranked American behind fellow countryman Taylor Fritz who is 8th in the world.
Matt Leviss is an intern with the Hyattsville Life & Times.