Next American Star In Women's Tennis? Take Your Pick
NEW YORK -- When you are in Austria on a work visit, there is nothing like spending the off hours with a kindred spirit. That's what Shelby Rogers did with fellow American tennis player Irina Falconi earlier this summer when they were playing a tournament in Bad Gastein.
Falconi was writing a blog, and the 21-year-old Rogers tagged along as they visited local sites and tasted as much food as they could manage. Rogers reached the final there, and on Tuesday won her first-round match at the US Open.
So how does she think American women's tennis is doing?
"It's awesome," Rogers said after winning the first match of her career in the US Open main draw, 6-1, 6-4 over Ukrainian qualifier Maryna Zanevska. It caps a successful summer for Rogers, who comes into the tournament ranked 86th in the world.
While men's tennis may be struggling to find the heir apparent to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi or even Andy Roddick, on the women's side, there are a number of candidates who will be competing long after Venus and Serena Williams hang up their tennis shoes. (But no need to rush.)
"There's a lot of us," said unseeded Christina McHale, who beat Chanelle Scheepers 6-2, 1-6, 7-6 (5). "I think we're pushing each other the last couple of years."
There were 17 American women in the main draw of the US Open and, extracting the wild cards, 11 of those women reached because they earned their way in. That's almost double the number of American men, at six. For the winners, such as Rogers, there's no place like home.
"Being an American here is something you can't express in words," Rogers said. "The support from the fans, just the pride you get, getting a victory at the US Open as an American, everybody's happy and it's really incredible."
A few had difficult first-round matches and lost, such as 45th-ranked Alison Riske, who lost 6-3, 6-0 to No. 8 Ana Ivanovic. Lauren Davis (49) drew No. 24 and former Open champion Samantha Stosur, and went down 6-1, 6-4.
But 12 women made it through the first round, including 15-year-old phenom CiCi Bellis, who shocked No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova. Madison Keys, Nicole Gibbs, Vania King, Varvara Lepchenko and CoCo Vandeweghe also won on Tuesday.
"All of us girls get along really well," Rogers said. "We have a lot of fun at tournaments and have that kind of friendship among us battling it out there, it adds to us pushing each other because we genuinely get excited when the other ones are doing well. There's not that jealousy."
But Rogers still wants to win, and likes how it has felt.
"I've had some really good wins and experiences," Rogers said. "It's a different side of the tour than I've seen before, a career-high ranking, I've never really been in this position. It's incredible. I'm trying to take it all in and enjoy every moment."