Rating young American women stars

NEW YORK -- There are so many talented 23-and-under American women emerging this year that it might be hard to keep track of them. So who are the real contenders and who are the also-rans? We talked to a few well-connected tennis insiders and handicap the current field for you.

Sloane Stephens

Age: 20

Current ranking: 16

Career-high ranking: 15 (July 2013)

Stephens is the most complete player of this generation and should crack the top 10 after the 2013 US Open. She arrived as an elite player the moment she defeated Serena Williams to reach the semifinal at the Australian Open, and her results on the WTA Tour have been impressive and improving. She has all the markings of a future Grand Slam winner.

Verdict: Future champion

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Before it's all said and done, Madison Keys could end up a Grand Slam champion.

Madison Keys

Age: 18

Current ranking: 39

Career-high ranking: 39

Keys has twice reached the third round of a Grand Slam: this year's Australian and Wimbledon. At 5-foot-10 she has the physicality to be a top 10 player. Of all the young women who haven't yet made a mark, tennis insiders expect her to emerge as a serious player and contend for majors.

Verdict: Future champion

Jamie Hampton

Age: 23

Current ranking: 26

Career-high ranking: 24 (July 2013)

Hampton has a solid game, but might have reached a plateau. She reached the round of 16 at the 2013 French Open, but made too many unforced errors against Stephens in the third round of the US Open. She's a hard worker. Can be top 10, but has to develop a stronger mental game to really improve.

Verdict: A contender

Victoria Duval

Age: 17

Current ranking: 296

Career-high ranking: 285 (May 2013)

Her best result was beating No. 11 seed and defending champion Samantha Stosur at the 2013 US Open. She lost in the second round to Daniela Hantuchova. Good court sense. At 5-foot-10 and growing, her serve is the weakest part of her game. That leaves a lot of room for improvement -- potentially top 10, but a long way to go.

Verdict: A contender


Taylor Townsend is a junior champion and one to keep an eye on as a professional.

Taylor Townsend

Age: 17

Current ranking: 334

Career-high ranking: 332 (June 2013)

The second round of this year's Indian Wells tournament is her best -- and first -- result as a pro. She is the former world No. 1 junior, who won the 2012 Australian Open junior tournament. She discovered an iron deficiency last summer that affected her energy level and has since managed it. Townsend is untested, but a very smart player and potentially formidable if she can develop on her current trajectory.

Verdict: Promising

Christina McHale

Age: 21

Current ranking: 114

Career-high ranking: 24 (Aug. 2012)

She reached the third round of Wimbledon, the Australian Open and the French Open in 2012, as well as the 2011 US Open. She was diagnosed with mononucleosis last summer, which might have affected her confidence and her game. Has she gotten the most out of a limited game already, or can she toughen up and return to the top 30?

Verdict: Split Decision

Alison Riske

Age: 23

Current ranking: 81

Career-high ranking: 81

Reached the third round of Wimbledon and US Open in 2013. She's known as a grass-court specialist, but results are improving on hard courts. A well-liked player who's having a strong season. She has been more of a counter-puncher than an aggressive player on slower surfaces, but that appears to be changing as she reaches the third round of the 2013 US Open.

The Verdict: Promising

Shelby Rogers

Age: 20

Current ranking: 132

Career-high ranking: 132

She reached the second round at the 2013 French Open. She has had some good results in ITF tournaments. Had to take time off from tennis after a serious car accident in 2010. Among the injuries, she lost the big toe on her right foot. Strikes the ball extremely well, but needs to get quicker.

Verdict: Too soon to tell

Sachia Vickery

Age: 18

Current ranking: 238

Career-high ranking: 227 (Aug. 2013)

Vickery won the 2013 USTA Girls' 18s National Championship earlier this month. Was born prematurely and weighed just 3 pounds at birth. Physically, her size is a limitation -- she is 5-foot-5, but is extremely quick on the court. Has matured a lot in the past year.

Verdict: Too soon to tell


Lauren Davis' height (she's 5-foot-2) could limit her.

Lauren Davis

Age: 19

Current ranking: 70

Career-high ranking: 63 (April 2013)

Davis won an ITF indoor tournament in Midland, Mich., in February, and then reached the round of 32 in Toronto as a qualifier. She is 5-foot-2, which ultimately might limit her. Has to learn to maximize her effectiveness on court.

Verdict: Too soon to tell

Grace Min

Age: 19

Current ranking: 149

Career-high ranking: 149

Won US Open junior championship in 2011; won three ITF tournaments. She is 5-foot-6, and again, a smaller frame can make cracking the top 50 more challenging. Moves well on the court.

Verdict: Too Soon to Tell

Mallory Burdette

Age: 22

Current ranking: 96

Career-high ranking: 68 (June 2013)

The 5-foot-10 Burdette reached the third round of the 2012 US Open and the second round of the 2013 French Open. But her ranking is dropping.

Verdict: Long shot

Melanie Oudin

Age: 21

Current ranking: 134

Career-high ranking: 31 (April 2010)

Reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 US Open; won a WTA title in Birmingham, Ala., last year. Not a lot of faith that she will get back the magic from '09, but she could bounce back to be a top 50 player.

Verdict: Long shot

Coco Vanderweghe

Age: 21

Current ranking: 191

Career-high ranking: 69 (July 2012)

She has the frame, but the 6-foot-1 Vanderweghe hasn't gotten past the second round at any Grand Slam event despite qualifying and wild cards. She's had plenty of time to make a move, and supporters hope she could possibly crack the top 50 again.

Verdict: Long shot

Madison Brengle

Age: 23

Current ranking: 183

Career-high ranking: 152 (April 2011)

The 5-foot-4 player has won five ITF titles. Among tennis insiders, there isn't a lot of confidence that she will emerge as a consistent player.

Verdict: Long shot

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