News / USA

Francis Tiafoe, Next Big American Tennis Star?

Francis Tiafoe, Next Big American Tennis Star?i
X
June 19, 2014 11:15 PM
His parents are from Sierra Leone, but Francis Tiafoe, 16, is being talked about as the next big American tennis star. He has won the 18-and-under titles at the top two U.S. junior events, making him the first player to pull that off since John McEnroe in 1976. VOA's Mariama Diallo paid a visit to the young man who just returned from the French Open and is getting ready to play at Wimbledon next week.
Mariama Diallo
His parents are from Sierra Leone, but Francis Tiafoe, 16, is being talked about as the next big American tennis star.  He has won the 18-and-under titles at the top two U.S. junior events, making him the first player to pull that off since John McEnroe in 1976.  Tiafoe just returned from the French Open and is getting ready to play at Wimbledon next week.

Tiafoe's daily routine begins at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in suburban Washington, D.C.  He grew up playing tennis at this center where his father once worked as a maintenance man.

Frank Salazar, one of his coaches, says he’s known Tiafoe since he was five.

“He was always on the court all day long from sun up to sundown, and he played with anybody who had a pulse,” he said.

It has paid off.  His numerous victories include a triumph at the prestigious Orange Bowl Junior tournament in Florida, following in the footsteps of legends such as Roger Federer, Andy Roddick and John McEnroe.

He was considered the top seed when he competed in the French Open junior tournament earlier this month. Although he lost in the second round, Tiafoe said it was a wonderful experience.

“Rolland Garros is probably one of the best [grand] slams you're going to go to," he said.  "It’s really nice and it’s the first time I’ve been there.  The treatment there is unbelievable, and the food there was great.  I just had a great time there.”

As Tiafoe gets ready to make his debut at Wimbledon, Salazar says his biggest strengths are his love and aptitude for the game.

“One would be passion for the game, which I think hands down is one of the most important qualities he has," he said. "Two: because he’s been around tennis so many years, he’s developed a very high tennis IQ. Lastly, he has tremendous racket hit speed and tremendous feel in terms of when he makes contact and strikes the ball.”

On average, Tiafoe spends about four hours per day on the court and two hours in fitness training.  He also has to attend school a few hours every day.  It can be a grueling schedule, but Tiafoe says he does not mind.

“Some days, obviously, I am like 'Today is not the day,' but you got to push through, especially when my aspirations are to be pro, you can’t have any bad days," he said. "All these pros are getting better every day.  You just want to catch up to them.”

He says when he’s not playing tennis, he spends time with friends and mentor Misha Kouznetsov, who has coached him since he was 8.  

Tiafoe says he looks up to his mom, dad and twin brother who have taught him the value of hard work and humility in life.  He’s been to Sierra Leone once, when he was eight years old, and has fond memories.

“I met all my family, cousins; I didn’t really realize I had so many cousins," he said. "It was good to see that environment; be around there and really see what my parents went through when they were younger.”

Although he has roots in Sierra Leone, Tiafoe is American through and through.  He says his dream is to one day win the U.S. Open.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid