By Gisele Campos
Staff Tennis Analyst
It seems that this year’s US Open was dominated by young up-and-coming athletes. Anyone in the tennis world knows of Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and Novak Djokovic. But before this Grand Slam, had you heard of Emma Raducanu? The answer is almost certainly no. Emma Raducanu shocked the world with her first Grand Slam title. At just 18-years-old, Raducanu debuted as a qualifier who stunned her competitors by battling and winning her way to the finals in Arthur Ashe Stadium against fellow young athlete Leylah Fernandez. While Raducanu stole the title and our hearts (Hernandez had an impressive run as well). The 19-year-old from Canada won singles in Monterrey (2021), was a finalist in Acapulco (2020), and won a junior Grand Slam among many more accomplishments. Both Raducanu and Fernandez proved that young players are the ones to watch right now. Raducanu did not drop a single set throughout the tournament and became the first qualifier to ever win the tournament, marking her place once more in Grand Slam history. After her win, Emily received high praise from many people. Jurgen Klopp, the manager of the Liverpool Football Club, said, “She is for sure the talent of the century.” Since winning the US Open, Raducanu’s life has drastically changed. She attended the MET Gala, joined the Tiffany & Co. team as an ambassador, and played tennis with British royalty.
Shifting gears to the men’s side of the tournament, a couple young players also had their glorious moments. Most notably, Carlos Alcaraz from Spain displayed crazy skill with a forehand that beat the famous Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas. Before the US Open, Tsitsipas held the number three spot in the world, but 18-year-old Alcaraz beat him in the third round. This win shocked spectators, and all eyes turned to him. He moved onto the next round; however, he had to pull out during the quarterfinals due to an injury. Despite this, he still turned heads and set history. The ATP Tour wrote, “He became the youngest player in the Open era to reach the US Open quarterfinals.” As of September this year, Alcaraz ranked at his best yet, 38th in the world, becoming the youngest player since Nadal in 2004 to be ranked so highly. Alcaraz is not new to setting records at such a young age. In 2020, he won Barcelona and Alicante titles back to back at 17-years-old, becoming the first person to consecutively do this since the ATP challenger tour was created forty-two years ago.
It is evident that young athletes are who to pay attention to these days. For a long time, the tennis world has been dominated by older players in their mid to late 30s and early 40s. Now that those players’ careers are coming close to an end, the next generation is rising to the occasion. Recently, Roger Federer said, “A new, incredible player will, I believe, break our run of 20 Grand Slams eventually– but not overnight!” Federer has so much faith in the next generation and cannot believe what these young players have already accomplished in their teen years. Federer won his first Grand Slam at 21-years-old and said he could not have imagined doing that when he was a teen. The 2021 US Open broke records and stunned the world with
such young talent surpassing everything anyone could have expected. It is officially time for the spotlight to shine on the next generation of tennis players. Emma Raducanu and Carlos Alcaraz are the next players to watch!