BLACK HISTORY MONTH:
Ashley Marshall | February 26, 2019
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 has seen his stock climb steadily over the past three years. True to his self-given hashtag, #BigFoeOnTheComeUp—a personal 21st-century slogan for the Instagram age—there's no denying that "Big Foe" is, in fact, making waves in the tennis world.
With a thousand-watt smile and infectious energy to boot, Tiafoe has quickly made himself a fan favorite. His hustle and drive have seen him earn the respect of his peers, while his shot-making and NBA-inspired victory celebrations have made him must-watch TV.
Here's more on Maryland native Tiafoe, the 2015 USTA Boys' 18s singles champion who reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open last month.
Residence: Orlando, Fla.
Current rank: 34
- Tiafoe was born in Hyattsville, Md., the son of immigrants Frances Sr.
and Alphina from Sierra Leone. His father was part of the construction crew that built the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., and later was promoted to head of maintenance. 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.
- In February 2018, Tiafoe won his first professional title in Delray Beach, Fla., beating his idol Juan Martin del Potro in three sets in the second round. Tiafoe then defeated fellow Next Generation stars Hyeon Chung and Denis Shapovalov in the quarterfinals and semifinals, respectively, before dispatching Peter Gojowczyk in the final. Tiafoe also reached the final of a clay-court tournament in Estoril, Portugal, last May, beating world No. 11 Pablo Carreno Busta en route to the championship match, where he fell to clay-court specialist Joao Sousa.
- Tiafoe reached his first Grand Slam quarterfinal last month with a run to the final eight at the Australian Open. Tiafoe rallied from a set down to defeat two-time major finalist Kevin Anderson in the second round before winning consecutive five-setters against veteran Andreas Seppi in the third round and former world No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of 16. Tiafoe eventually ran out of steam in the quarters, losing to Rafael Nadal, 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.
- Tiafoe turned pro in 2015, finishing the year as world No. 180, the youngest man in the ATP Top 200 rankings. He broke into the Top 100 for the first time in his career in January 2017, climbing to No. 79 to end the season. The 21-year-old entered the Top 50 for the first time last July after a third-round appearance at Wimbledon, and he finished 2018 at No. 39, one place off his personal best. As a result of making the 2019 Australian Open quarterfinals, Tiafoe rose to No. 30 at the end of January, and he peaked at No. 29 two weeks later. Should he break back into the Top 30 this spring, he will likely be seeded at a Slam for the first time in his career at the French Open in May.