American boys dominate world junior rankings

October 2, 2015 10:19 AM

By Sally Milano,

The future is looking bright for American tennis, and the proof is just one click away: on the rankings page of the ITF's junior tennis website.

American boys make up half of the Top 10 players in the world junior rankings, including the top three spots and four of the top five.

This is the first time since 2004, when the ITF combined its singles and doubles rankings into one universal category, that Americans have had such a hold on the world's top junior rankings.

Taylor Fritz leads the current pack of future stars at No. 1 in the world. The 17-year-old from Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., captured his first junior Grand Slam title last month at the US Open by defeating another American – current world No. 3 Tommy Paul – in the final. That is a reversal of the first-ever all-American French Open boys' singles final from earlier in the year, when Paul prevailed to capture the Roland Garros boys' crown.

Fritz (pictured at right, with Paul at the US Open final) also advanced to the boys' singles and doubles semifinals at Wimbledon – losing to fellow American and eventual champion Reilly Opelka in singles – and reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open.

No. 2 Michael Mmoh, 17, from Bradenton, Fla., has also had a big year in 2015, reaching the singles semifinals at the French Open (where he lost to Paul) and the doubles semifinals at Wimbledon (with Fritz) and the Australian Open (with Serbia's Miomir Kecmanovic), as well as the singles quarterfinals at the US Open. He also won the singles title at the Wimbledon warm-up event at Roehampton in July.

Paul won his first Grand Slam title at the French Open, where he also reached the doubles final (with world No. 10 William Blumberg). To accompany his runner-up showing in Flushing Meadows, the 18-year-old from Greenville, N.C., advanced to the singles and doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

Opelka, an 18-year-old from Palm Coast, Fla., reached a career-high ranking of No. 4 after winning the Wimbledon boys' title in July and is now listed at No. 5. In addition to his singles title at Wimbledon, the 6-foot-10 right-hander also reached the doubles final at the All England Club and, earlier in the year, advanced to the semifinals at Roehampton and the quarterfinals at Roland Garros.

At No. 10, Blumberg, from Greenwich, Conn., rounds out the American contingent in the world junior Top 10. The 17-year-old's 2015 results include winning the singles title and finishing runner-up in doubles at the International Spring Championships, reaching the doubles final (with Paul) at Roland Garros, and advancing to the singles and doubles quarterfinals at Wimbledon.

While it's too early to tell if this crop of talent teens will have the success that another great group of Americans – Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier and Michael Chang – did in the 1980s, the U.S. is certainly taking a big step closer to bringing U.S. tennis back to the forefront of the men's game.