Miami Sports Day

Local Teens Hit The Red Clay, Earn Trip To Roland Garros

USTA

The U.S. has always had its struggles on the red clay of Roland Garros, but maybe a new program with the USTA and the French tennis Federation will help change that, at least for some rising juniors. Last weekend in Boca Raton, the first-ever Rendez-vous à Roland-Garros USA in partnership with Longines was held at Boca West Country Club, an event designed to give rising American juniors a shot at success in Paris.

Thirteen-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff of Delray Beach, Florida and 16-year-old Michael Heller of Boca Raton, Florida took home the titles, and will travel to Paris next month to compete for a chance to enter a play-in tournament along with champions from five other countries. The winner of those six-player events in Paris will earn a main draw wild card in the Roland-Garros Juniors tournament.

Gauff, who turned 13 just last month, did not lose a set throughout the tournament. She challenged 18-year-old Victoria Flores of Ft. Dodge, IA in a match that pitted the youngest entrant against the oldest, winning in two sets, 6-2, 6-1. Heller is a high school sophomore from Boca Raton, Florida. Michael prevailed over 16-year-old Matthew Tsolakyan of Glendale, CA, 6-4, 6-3.

Among the 32 participants were some of the best youth tennis players in the country, representing states including Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Texas.

“We see this as a collaboration that is beneficial for everyone,” said USTA President Katrina Adams. “Not only is this a valuable opportunity for some of our American juniors to get experience playing on red clay, it’s a unique way to promote the sport of tennis ahead of the French Open with what figures to be an exciting competition for both players and fans.”

The weekend saw a packed house and some great tennis, not that far from last month’s Miami Open in Key Biscayne. If the winners can continue to play through with their next big step, maybe US tennis on clay can be on the rebound. This weekend was a great first step toward that bounce, with some rising stars getting to show their stuff.

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