America’s Best Young Prospect

Full Name: Frances Tiafoe

Birth Date: 20 January 1998

Place of Birth: United States

Playing Years: 2014 to present

Highest Ranking: No. 38 (13 August 2018)

Formative Years

Frances Tiafoe is a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone. His father Constant went to the United States in 1993, while his mother Alphina followed her husband to seek refuge from the country’s civil war.

Constant worked as a worker in the construction of the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland. When the facility’s construction completed, he was hired as on-site custodian. He was given a spare room and was allowed to live in the center itself, where he brought his twin sons Frances and Franklin. Frances started to learn tennis in this facility at the age of 3 with his brother Franklin, and grew up idolizing Argentina’s Juan Martin del Potro, who once signed a tennis ball for him.

At the age of 5, Frances and Franklin was enrolled by their father at the JTCC, bypassing the center’s usual fees. Misha Kouznetsov began taking interest on Frances, eventually coaching him and sponsoring him at junior tournaments.

Due to his unusual upbringing, Tiafoe excelled significantly in his junior career and rose to national prominence ever before he was even pro. When he was 14, he won his first notable international achievement at Les Petits As, France. In December 2013, he became the youngest player to win the Orange Bowl and the Easter Bowl. He also reached the semifinals of the US Open Juniors Grand Slam.

At the age of 17, Tiafoe ended his junior career with a victory at the USTA Junior National Championship, where he beat Stefan Kozlov.

Professional Career
Tiafoe made his professional debut at the 2014 ATP World Tour in Washington DC. In the following year, he started to make significant progress in his professional career, becoming the youngest player to have reached the Top 200. In the same year, he obtained his first ATP singles win at the Winston-Salem circuit, and made a Grand slam debut at Roland Garros. He received a wildcard to the US Open after dominating the USTA Boys’ 18s National Championship. And broke into the Challenger finals. He earned his first title as pro at the USA Futures, and jumped from world No. 1136 to No. 180, bypassing almost a thousand spots.

In 2016, Tiafoe won in his first ATP Masters 1000 tour, defeating Taylor Fritz in the Indian Wells 2R. In the same year, he reached a creer-high ranking as world No. 100.

In 2017, Tiafoe got into the ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati, beating then No.7 Alexander Zverev. He also qualified into the Miami circuit where he faced Roger Federer in 2R. In addition, he made it into what came to be his first ATP World Tour final at Houston. Due to his much more developed form, he rose to world No. 60.

Tiafoe achieved his first ATP semifinal and title at Delray Beach, beating Matthew Ebden, and becoming the tour’s youngest American champion since 19-year-old Andy Roddick at the 2002 Houston. He made it into the Next Gen ATP Finals, defeating Hubert Hurkacz, and reached the New York quarterfinal. By August, he reached his career’s highest ranking yet, when he became world No. 38.

Playing Style

Frances Tiafoe’s playing style has been compared to his contemporaries Jack Sock and Sam Querrey. Like Sock and Querrey, Tiafoe plays an aggressively offensive game dependent on a big serve and equally powerful forehand. The young American player could launch serves as rapid as 140 mph.

Tiafoe  had initially stunned John Isner when he encountered him at the 2016 US Open. Isner remarked that the young man could return his serve that is regarded as one of the most powerful.  

By @FitsEly

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