Black History Month Profile:
Erin Maher | February 8, 2018
In celebration of Black History Month, USTA.com is taking a look at several talented, young African-American players who are following in the footsteps of pioneering players like Althea Gibson, Arthur Ashe and the Williams sisters and seem ready to make their own mark in tennis. Here is a look at Frances Tiafoe.
Frances Tiafoe is one of the rising stars of men's tennis. Last year, the 20-year-old American reached a career-high ranking of No. 60 in July after posting the biggest win of his career against then-world No. 7 Alex Zverev to reach the ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati third round. He also took Roger Federer to five sets at the US Open in August. Here’s more on the tenacious Tiafoe.
Residence: Orlando, Fla.
Current rank: 94
- Tiafoe was born in Hyattsville, Md., the son of immigrants from Sierra Leone.
His father was part of the construction crew that built the famed Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., and later was hired full time at the facility. Frances and his twin brother, Franklin, began training there at the age of 5.
- At 15 years old, Tiafoe won the Boys' 18s title at the 2013 Orange Bowl and became the youngest champion in the 67-year history of the tournament. Four months later, he took home the title at the 2014 Easter Bowl, another highly touted junior tournament, and reached No. 2 in the ITF World Junior Rankings shortly thereafter. He was the first American since John McEnroe in 1976 to win both the Orange Bowl and Easter Bowl 18s titles.
- Tiafoe turned pro in 2015, finishing the year as world No. 180, the youngest man in the ATP Top 200 rankings. He made his Grand Slam main-draw debut that year at Roland Garros after winning the USTA Pro Circuit's French Open Wild Card Challenge. He also received a wild card at the US Open after winning the USTA Boys' 18s singles title at the USTA National Championships in Kalamazoo, Mich.
- 2017 was a big year for the young gun, as he broke into the world's Top 100 of the ATP rankings for the first time. In addition to beating Zverev in Cincinnati, he also advanced to his first ATP doubles final in Houston and captured two Challenger titles, in Sarasota, Fla., and Aix en Provence, France.
- Tiafoe, who was featured in the The Telegraph in 2016 in a series profiling the most promising young tennis players, told the paper that he wants other African-Americans to follow him into tennis. “I can inspire people to take up the sport, and that’s pretty amazing. Having black kids looking up to you is huge, and it has a big impact. It’s really special.”