WHO GOT NEXT??

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If you hadn’t figured it out by now, I’m a Serena Williams fan.  As far as I’m concerned she’s a legit superhero and her superpower is #BlackGirlMagic.  I mean she sprinkles it on absolutely everything she touches.  She’s a gracious champion (a gazillion times over), a philanthropist, an entrepreneur and an unapologetically strong, beautiful woman.  Yes, to me, S Dot is all that and a bag of chips.  But as I sat and watched her come up just a little bit short in this year’s Australian Open, I couldn’t help but think that the end would one day come.  Not the end of Serena, but the end of an era in which she dominates women’s tennis and women’s sports as a whole.  Her legacy will live on foe-eva, but the inevitable fact is that someday, she will retire.  After I picked myself up off the floor from mourning a retirement that has yet to come, I began to realize that after her departure from the game, American women’s tennis (like Serena’s legacy) will live on.  So the obvious next question is, who’s going to carry the torch? In preparation for the day that Serena drops her rackets in that Wilson tennis bag one last time, I decided to introduce you to the future of American tennis:

 

Madison Keys

keys

Current Ranking: No. 24

Hometown: Rock Island, IL

Turned Pro: 2009

Age: 21

 

 

Since turning pro and winning her first WTA match at the age of 14, Madison Keys has had a buzz around her.  While her rise to the top has been slow, it’s been steady; mastering more shots and more confidence as she climbs in rankings.  Although she’s slipped a little in rankings since the end of the 2015 season (where she finished 18th), Keys is poised to have a consistent season and be a contender for more titles this year.  One thing that is likely to impact her season will be transitioning to working with her new coach, former ATP no. 69, Jesse Levine.  Coming off of her best season yet, Keys parted ways from her coach, 3-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, because Davenport, a wife, mother of four and TV analyst, couldn’t coach Keys full-time.  Hopefully, Levine can help Keys continue her upward mobility and bring home some titles in 2016.

 

Sloane Stephens

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 26:  Sloane Stephens of the United States reacts after a point against Mandy Minella of Luxembourg during their first round women's singles match on Day One of the 2013 US Open at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 26, 2013 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Current Ranking: 25

Hometown: Plantation, FL

Turned Pro:  2009

Age: 22

 

 

 

 

She’s athletic.  The power in her forehand and ability to attack and win at the net are undeniable.  Since winning her first title in 2011 (the first year she was eligible to play a full WTA schedule), Sloane Stephens has made her presence known by steadily climbing the ranks.  In 2011, she finished 89th in the world; in 2012, she finished 38th; in 2013, she finished 12th; in 2014, she finished 37th (largely due to battling injury in her left wrist); and in 2015, she finished 30th.  While her first round exit from this year’s Australian Open isn’t very promising, Stephens certainly has what it takes to lead US women in the future.  Hopefully, she and her coach, Kamau Murray, can find her grove and get back into the Top 20.

 

Coco Vandeweghe

coco

Current Ranking: 46

Hometown: New York City, NY

Turned Pro: 2008

Age: 24

 

 

 

After winning the US Open Girls’ Singles without dropping a set, it was time for Coco Vandeweghe to hit the WTA tour full-time.  Her huge serve and powerful groundstrokes have helped her finish in the Top 40 for the last two seasons.  This tomboy and pageant girl turned professional tennis player executes her strategy with aggression and isn’t shy in front of a crowd.  Hopefully she and her coach, Craig Kardon, can marshal her talent and personality into being a dominate force on the tour.

 

Madison Brengle

brengle

Current Ranking: 57

Hometown: Dover, DE

Turned Pro: 2005

Age: 24

 

 

 

Thus far, Madison Brengle’s career has been indicative of the experiences of the vast majority of professional tennis players; it’s been a slow grind.  She wasn’t able to crack the top 100 until 9 years after turning pro and finally cracked the top 40 last year with 4th and 3rd round finishes in the Australian and U.S. Opens, respectively.  While the grind is finally showing some promise, she has yet to rack up any sponsors, making the grind that more difficult.  But the improvements to her serve and forehand over the past couple of years are proof that she has some more climbing to do.

 

Christina McHale

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 31:  Christina McHale of USA plays a forehand in her women's singles second round match against Lauren Davis of USA during day 5 of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 31, 2012 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

Current Ranking: 63

Hometown: Teaneck, NJ

Turned Pro:  2010

Age: 23

 

 

 

Christina McHale has been in the Top 100 for the past 5 years and is showing signs of improvement and promise.  While her rankings haven’t necessarily been stable since her arrival on tour, her big wins against Caroline Wozniacki, Marion Bartoli and Petra Kvitova are proof that she has what it takes to compete with the best.  She’ll have to develop some serious weapons to compete at the top on a consistent basis, but there’s no doubt that she can do it.


 

Let us know which ladies are you keeping your eye on to carry the torch for US Women’s Tennis, and don’t forget to follow GladiatHers on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook!

 

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