Orange Bowl Spotlight: Hurricane Tyra Black

Arthur Kapetanakis | December 05, 2018

The life of a top junior is often hectic, but for Hurricane Tyra Black, her experience in November in Mexico took that to a new level, when rain delays forced her to play seven matches in a 48-hour span.


“It was just a huge mess,” she said.


But the 17-year-old got through it; over the course of two weeks, at one Grade A event and one Grade 1 tourney, she won 18 total matches en route to a singles final appearance and a pair of doubles titles. When she returned home, she took a week off, during the Eddie Herr International Championship, for some much-deserved rest ahead of the Orange Bowl.


Currently ranked a career-high No. 22 in the ITF World Junior Rankings, Black has won five titles in 2018 – two in singles and three in doubles with three different partners. Her singles trophy at the International Spring Championships in April, where she won a pair of three-setters in the last two rounds, helped set the table for the rest of the year.


“It gave me a lot of confidence, especially on hard courts,” she said.


She would go on to reach the final at a Grade 1 event in College Park, Md., in August, in addition to her success on the Mexican hard courts this fall.


Black will also remember 2018 for her first career main-draw singles victory at the professional level, also coming on hard courts, at the $25,000 ITF event in Baton Rouge, La. Turning 18 in March, she has just over a year of junior eligibility remaining, and her sights are set on the WTA Tour, rather than college tennis.


“It was a pretty easy decision for me because it’s just something I’ve always wanted to do,” she said. “If it doesn’t work out, I can always go back to college.”


Any of the college coaches in attendance would have welcomed Black onto their team; her versatility and success in both singles and doubles would be a major weapon in the college dual-match format. Though her elite touch and feel around the court make her well-suited to the demands of doubles, Black credits her partners for her success. Her three 2018 doubles titles have come with Coco Gauff, Elizabeth Mandlik and Selin Ovunc of Turkey.


“I don’t think it’s just me. I think it’s the chemistry I have with my partner,” she explained. “I usually play with a friend. Usually if I play with someone I don’t know too well, it’s a little shakier.”


At the Orange Bowl, Black has again teamed with Gauff, as the pair looks to back up their Grade A title in Mexico. If a good relationship is the key to doubles success, this team is in good stead.


Friends for almost a decade, the girls met when a 6-year-old Gauff began training with Black’s father, Sylvester, who previously represented Jamaica in the Davis Cup. Their families remain friends and live 15 minutes away from each other, with Black based in Boca Raton, Fla., and Gauff residing in Delray Beach, Fla. The two have trained together in the past but have not done so recently due to their extensive travel schedules.


Such is the life of a top-ranked junior on the ITF tour.


Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA



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