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JTCC Alumnus Frances Tiafoe Advances To US Open Quarterfinals

Sep 7, 2023

JTCC alumnus Frances Tiafoe’s outstanding run at the 2023 US Open not only showcased his immense talent, but his continued ascent in the world of professional tennis.

With his impressive quarterfinal appearance, Tiafoe solidified his status as one of the top players on the global ATP Tour. His remarkable journey through the tournament, marked by gritty determination and exceptional shot-making, left fans and experts alike eagerly anticipating his future achievements.

In the first three rounds, Tiafoe defeated opponents Learner Tien, Sebastian Ofner, Adrian Mannarino, and Rinky Hijikata, losing only one set in four matches. In a hotly contested three-hour match in the fourth round, Tiafoe faced Ben Shelton, 2022 NCAA singles champion and friend. The third set reached its climax with an intense tiebreak during which Tiafoe found himself on the brink of clinching the set, holding a set point at 7-6. However, Shelton emerged victorious 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2.

The match between Tiafoe and Shelton was historic, marking the first Grand Slam quarterfinal to feature two Black American players. Tiafoe acknowledged the significance of the moment. “It’s great with two people of color going at it. Obviously, a historic moment,” Tiafoe said. “But ultimately, once you get out there, you just want to win.”

His dedication to kindling the passion in the next generation of tennis stars is exemplified by the recent establishment of the Frances Tiafoe Fund. This initiative, in collaboration with the USTA Foundation, is focused on breaking down barriers and ensuring tennis becomes a readily accessible opportunity for the youth in Prince George’s County and underserved communities across the nation.

Tiafoe and his twin brother, Franklin, have been fixtures at JTCC since their childhood. Their family’s journey began when they immigrated from war-torn Sierra Leone in West Africa to the United States during the 1990s. At JTCC, their father, Constant, was in charge of maintenance, and the Tiafoe twins could often be found traversing the club’s grounds, tennis racquets in hand, observing and emulating the coaches and players.

Tiafoe initially entered the JTCC scene as a participant in the afterschool training program. As time passed, his tennis skills flourished within this nurturing environment. Progressing through the JTCC development pathway, he became a full-time participant, and it wasn’t long before his prodigious talent propelled him into the professional tennis world in 2015 at the age of 17.

Tiafoe will represent Team USA in the highly anticipated 2023 Davis Cup Finals Group Stage scheduled to take place in Split, Croatia, from September 12-17. A contingent of JTCC supporters will be making the trip to cheer on Tiafoe and Team USA.

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