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US Open: Five teenagers who could break through

Teenagers Linda Nosková and Emma Raducanu shake hands after a match. (Andy Cheung/Getty Images)

Last year’s US Open final featured two teenagers for the first time since the 1999 US Open — where a 17-year-old Serena Williams won her first major title against an 18-year-old Martina Hingis.

At the 2021 Grand Slam, unseeded 18-year-old Emma Raducanu beat out unseeded 19-year-old Leylah Fernandez for her own inaugural major title.

In total, teenagers have won 11 US Open women’s singles titles during the Open era, dating back to 16-year-old Tracy Austin’s win at Flushing Meadows in 1979.

As Williams prepares for her final US Open and Raducanu prepares for her title defense, Just Women’s Sports takes a look at five teenagers who could make waves at this year’s tournament.

Coco Gauff

While Raducanu and Fernandez are both 19 as the tournament begins, the obvious choices will not be included on our list. But nestled between No. 11 Raducanu and No. 14 Fernandez in the world rankings sits No. 12 Coco Gauff.

In June, the same month in which she graduated from high school, the American made – and subsequently lost – her first Grand Slam final at the French Open. Still, the loss showed that the 18-year-old is ready to step onto the sport’s biggest stages.

Since then, she’s rocketed to No. 1 in the doubles world rankings, and she is oh so close on the singles side.

She represents the leading edge of the next generation of American tennis, a heavy burden to bear with Williams’ retirement approaching. Still, Gauff has taken the pressure in stride.

And if Gauff is truly the next American superstar, then it would be all too fitting for her first major to come at the US Open that is to be the final chapter for one of the game’s all-time-greats.

Gauff’s health could be a question mark, as she had to pull out of the Cincinnati Open after rolling her ankle in the first round, but she has described the injury as “really minor.”

Qinwen Zheng

Ranked at a career-high No. 41, 19-year old Qinwen Zheng is another player who has the talent to make a deep run.

Zheng turned heads at the French Open in May. In her fourth-round match, she won a set in a tiebreak against world No. 1 Iga Swiatek, who was in the midst of her 37-match win streak. In a show of Swiatek’s dominance but also Zheng’s ability, the set was the only one Swiatek dropped en route to the title at Roland Garros.

The Chinese teen followed that up with a win against 2018 US Open champion Sloane Stephens at Wimbledon. Zheng made it to the third round before losing to eventual champion Elena Rybakina.

In her most recent tournament, she became the first Chinese player to advance to the quarterfinals at the Canadian Open since Na Li in 2013. While No. 1 seed Ons Jabeur had to retire in their second-round match, Zheng took the first set of that match 6-1. She backed up that walkover with a win over Bianca Andreescu before falling in three sets to Karolina Pliskova.

Clara Tauson

At 19 years old, Clara Tauson of Denmark has made a splash. The youngest Danish champion since Caroline Wozniacki, she turned pro in 2019.

While she currently sits 58th in the world, Tauson has risen as high as 33rd. She won 42 matches in her breakout 2021 season.

Her best major finish so far came at the Australian Open in January, as she upset sixth-seeded Anett Kontaveit in the second round before falling to Danielle Collins in the third.

A month later, she made her WTA 1000 main draw debut in Qatar, where she beat Olympic champion Belinda Bencic in straight sets before losing to third-seeded Paula Badosa. And a month after that, at Indian Wells, she advanced to the third round before losing in three sets to eventual champion Swiatek during her streak.

Tauson has dealt with back injuries since then, however, having to withdraw from the Italian Open and Wimbledon. At the Cincinnati Open she was ousted in the first qualifying round by Ajla Tomlajanovic in straight sets, but she bested Harmony Tan in the round of 32 at Tennis in the Land.

Diane Parry

Diane Parry has had a career year, reaching the third round at both the French Open and Wimbledon. Ranked at a career-high No. 76, the 18-year-old is coming off a loss in the Cincinnati qualifiers – but it came in three sets against eventual champion Caroline Garcia.

Parry is one of just two players in the top 100 to play with a single-handed backhand, but she uses the relatively rare shot to her advantage.

She made an impression at Roland Garros, knocking off defending champion Barbora Krejcikova in three sets in the first round. At the same tournament in 2019, a 16-year-old Parry became the youngest woman to win a main-draw match at the major since 2009.

At Wimbledon, she beat former world No. 15 Kaia Kanepi in straight sets before losing to third-seeded Ons Jabeur in the third round.

Linda Nosková

In the first round at the French Open in May, Nosková lost to Raducanu in three sets after taking the first in a tiebreak. The loss came after the 17-year-old made her way through qualifiers as the reigning junior 2021 Roland Garros champion, becoming the youngest qualifier at the major in 13 years.

Nosková has been more active on the lower-tier ITF tour this year, winning in Germany and France and making the semifinals of tournaments in Kazakhstan and Spain. But her two WTA events this year, Nosková made it to the semifinals.

In Prague, she beat Alizé Cornet in the fourth round before losing to Marie Bouzkova in the semis, while at the Makarska Open in Croatia she had an easy time reaching the semifinals before falling to Jule Niemeier.

With those runs, the world No. 88 became just the second player born after 2004 to make a WTA semifinal, joining Gauff.

Esme Morgan Signs With Washington Spirit

Esme Morgan of England inspects the pitch prior to the UEFA Women's EURO 2025 qualifying match between England and France
The England national will join the Spirit in DC on July 15th. (Naomi Baker - The FA/The FA via Getty Images)

English defender Esme Morgan has signed with the Washington Spirit, the club announced Thursday. 

Morgan had been with WSL side Manchester City since 2017, with one year remaining on her contract. She’ll now make a move to the NWSL, with City receiving a fee for the move. 

"I wanted to join the Spirit because they have the ambition and tools to be the best team in the NWSL, and trying to achieve that will be a great but enjoyable challenge," Morgan said in a club statement.

"On an individual level too, the opportunity to work under Jonatan [Giráldez], one of the world's best coaches, is really exciting and I look forward to learning from him and pushing myself to become the best player I can be, hopefully helping the team to success."

According to ESPN, Morgan’s lack of playing time under City manager Gareth Taylor played a key role in her decision to leave the league championship runners-up. She’ll join the Spirit in Washington, DC on July 15th, but won’t be able to begin play until August. 

Spirit president Mark Krikorian called Morgan an "exceptional talent" and added that the club is "thrilled" to add her to the roster.

"I think she’s pretty talented," Giraldez told reporters on Friday. "A young player with a great future, but with experience already in a great league and with the national team. She’s been surrounded by great players and also great coaches, so she can give us experience."

Ledecky Goes for 4 at Olympic Swimming Trials

Swimmer katie ledecky swimming at Toyota US Open
Decorated swimmer Katie Ledecky is aiming to make her fourth-straight Olympic squad. (Jacob Kupferman/Getty Images)

The US Olympic Swimming Trials begin this weekend, running from June 15th through June 23rd in Indianapolis, with Katie Ledecky eyeing her fourth-straight Summer Games.

While traditionally held in Omaha, Indiana's Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, has been fitted with a 50-meter pool to host the meet that will determine the 2024 Paris Olympics roster.

All eyes will be on seven-time Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky, who will be competing in the 200-meter, 400-meter, 800-meter, and 1500-meter freestyle — all events in which she’s been an Olympic champion. 

Rival Ariarne Titmus had her trials last week, breaking the world record in the 200-meter freestyle. Ledecky’s 200 is intended to qualify her for the Olympic relay. Meanwhile stateside, Katie Grimes stands to be a challenger in the 1500-meter freestyle has already qualified for the Paris Olympics in the 10km open water event.

Other competitors of note include 47-year-old Gabrielle Rose, who stands to become the oldest US Swimming Olympic qualifier in the 100-meter and 200-meter breaststroke.

Additionally, Kate Douglass — an NCAA and World Champion — is a favorite to make her first Olympic team in the 200-meter IM and 200-meter breaststroke. Simone Manuel, an Olympic champion in the 100-meter freestyle, is also looking to make her third-straight Olympics.

Where to watch: The Trials will be streaming all week on Peacock, with later qualifying heats airing live on USA Network and event finals airing in primetime on NBC.

Orlando and Kansas City Shoot for 13 in NWSL Weekend Action

NWSL's T. Chawinga #6 of the Kansas City Current passes the ball during the first half of their game against the Utah Royals FC
The Kansas City Current hopes to extend its NWSL unbeaten streak to 13 with a win over Chicago. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

The 13th match weekend is fast approaching in the NWSL, with two season-long unbeaten streaks on the line.

League-leaders Kansas City and Orlando will attempt to survive the weekend with their unbeaten runs intact, as the Current host Chicago on Friday and the Pride travel to North Carolina for Saturday's match.

But while Kansas City and Orlando have been the gold standard this year, they're still a number of wins away from tying Washington's record for longest unbeaten streak in a single NWSL season. In 2021, the Spirit went 20 games without a loss en route to the club's first NWSL championship.

Both Gotham and Louisville are carrying momentum into their matchup on Saturday. Louisville is unbeaten in three games, and they’re looking to finally leapfrog Chicago and claim sixth place in the league standings. Gotham, on a seven-game unbeaten run, is into fifth place.

Portland and Seattle will face off in the Cascadia Clash this weekend, with Golden Boot contender Sophia Smith absent, as the decorated forward was shown a red card last weekend for time-wasting on the bench.

The Reign could use a win against their long-time rivals, as a difficult start has 13th-place Seattle registering only two wins amid nine losses so far this season.

Elsewhere in the league, 2024 expansion teams Bay FC and Utah meet for the first time this weekend, as both look to rise from the bottom half of the standings. And Washington will ride a four-game winning streak into Saturday's game against a San Diego side that's earned two hard-fought draws in recent weeks.

Watch more: "Sophia Smith is INNOCENT!" on The Late Sub with Claire Watkins

WNBA All-Star Voting Starts on June 13th

Phoenix Mercury mascot Scorch waving a 2024 WNBA All-Star flag at a 2023 home game.
Phoenix Mercury will host the 20th-annual All-Star Game on July 20th, 2024. (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Voting for the 2024 AT&T WNBA All-Star Game opened at 2 PM ET today and runs through June 29th.

All active WNBA players are eligible to make the All-Star Game, set for July 20th in Phoenix. Unlike previous formats that featured two voted-in All-Star squads, this year’s contest pits a single All-Star team against the already-decided Olympic-bound USA Women’s National Team.

Fans can submit a daily ballot nominating up to 10 athletes via WNBA.com or the WNBA App.

Fan-submitted ballots account for 50% of vote, with the other 50% split equally between current WNBA players and members of the media. The top 10 athletes will automatically make the All-Star Game, with league coaches then voting from a pool of the next 36 to complete Team WNBA’s 12-player roster. The final lineup will be announced on July 2nd.

This year's All-Star Game format presents an opportunity for fans to vote for players they might consider Olympic snubs. Indiana rookie Caitlin Clark and Dallas’s Arike Ogunbawole seem like shoo-ins given the discussion surrounding their Olympic omissions, while Connecticut stars Brionna Jones and DeWanna Bonner are also expected to snag All-Star nods.

And after a career-high 20-point, 10-rebound double-double in last night’s 83-75 loss to the Sun, Chicago rookie Angel Reese could also secure a spot.

Regardless, it won't necessarily be smooth sailing for Team USA, as history has tended to favor the underdog. 

The first USA vs. All-Stars matchup took place in 2021, with the league’s squad humbling the Tokyo Olympians 93-85. With 26 points, Ogunbawole was named All-Star Game MVP after barely missing the Olympic cut. Could she and Clark turn the tables on Team USA this year?

Watch more: "Were Caitlin Clark and Arike Ogunbowale snubbed?" by Expert Adjacent

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