Townsend tops world junior rankings
Originally published on: 25/04/12 00:00
American tennis has been wondering for years who might follow in the footsteps of the Williams sisters. Taylor Townsend, a 16-year-old from Georgia, hopes she can provide the answer, especially after becoming the first American to top the world junior rankings for seven years.
Donald Young was the last American to top the rankings, which is appropriate given that his parents have played a big part in Townsend’s development. Illona and Donald Young senior were the first to spot her potential and coached her in her early years in Chicago and then Atlanta. She now works with Kathy Rinaldi, the US Tennis Association’s Lead National Coach, at Boca Raton in Florida, with a group of promising young American players, including Grace Min and Allie Kiick.
“I look at it more like a team,” Townsend said. “We all support each other and we all push each other to work hard. We practise together. During practices we push each other, and that's pretty much all we can do. We're really good friends off the court. We have fun on the court. In fitness, we push each other and everything like that. But when we're in competition and playing against each other, obviously it's a single sport so we are going to distance that.”
Townsend has made a fine start to the year, winning the girls’ singles and doubles competitions at the Australian Open, where she became the first American junior to win both titles at a Grand Slam event since Lindsay Davenport in 1992. Earlier this month Townsend won the Easter Bowl title at Rancho Mirage, California. She is currently in Mexico with the American team at the Junior Fed Cup.
An exception to most juniors in that she likes to play at the net, Townsend said that Young’s parents had always encouraged her to move forwards. “I have pretty good hands,” she said. “I have pretty good hand-eye coordination. Ever since I was young, when I started playing tennis, we always did volleys.”