News, Sports

Teen Titans of Tennis

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Britain’s Emma Raducanu (left) took on Canada’s Leylah Fernandez (right) to win the women’s championship of the US Open on Saturday. Images: Wikipedia

It was a battle between two extremely talented tennis teenagers: Canada’s Leylah Fernandez, who had just turned 19 and Britain’s Emma Raducanu, 18. The last time two teens faced off at the US Open tournament, one of the biggest tennis tournaments in the world, was 1999.

In the end, Raducanu won the match on Saturday in New York, 6-4, 6-3. (To win the US Open women’s championship you must win two “sets” of tennis. The numbers 6-4, 6-3 mean Raducanu won six games to take each set against Fernandez, who won four games and three games.)

This year’s US Open was remarkable for a number of reasons. Raducanu was the first “qualifier” to win a Grand Slam tournament. (Grand Slam refers to the biggest tennis tournaments, such as the US Open.) A qualifier is someone who isn’t automatically eligible to play in the tournament. In this case, Raducanu had to win three matches in a row just to even be allowed to play in the US Open. Then, she had to win seven more extremely difficult matches to win the whole thing.

Another exciting element of the tournament was the unexpected showing of Fernandez, who surprised many tennis experts by winning match after match against very tough opponents.

Fernandez is relatively small in stature–just 5′ 4″ and 106 pounds–but her determination, willingness to work hard and her love for the game give her a massive edge. (In comparison, 16 of the 20 highest ranked female players are 5′ 9″ or taller, according to CBC News.)

When she was little, in Montreal, Quebec, Fernandez would practice by hitting tennis balls against the wall in her basement and in her driveway. Her father coached her; her family often had to make tough decisions about which tennis tournaments they could afford to let her play in. Eventually they got some funding from Tennis Canada, an organization that oversees the sport in the country and as Fernandez got older she was able to play in better tournaments. She eventually became the 73rd ranked player in the world.

It is the first time in 44 years that a British player has won the women’s singles in a Grand Slam tournament. Queen Elizabeth congratulated Raducanu, calling her victory “a testament to your hard work and dedication.” She wrote that “I have no doubt your outstanding performance, and that of your opponent Leylah Fernandez will inspire the next generation of tennis players.”

THINK & DISCUSS

Not so long ago, Fernandez’ family struggled financially to help her in her tennis career. But even second place in the US Open earns a massive paycheque. Find out how much money Fernandez and Raducanu each won on Saturday. What do you think they’ll do with that money? Would would you do with it?

The first paragraph of this article, and its headline, use alliteration–words in a series that all start with the same letter. Why do you think the journalist who wrote the article did this? Create a sentence using alliteration.

The two tennis players mentioned in this article come from different countries. Take a look at articles from each of their countries to see how the same tennis match was reported. What similarities and differences can you spot between the two articles?

Queen Elizabeth said the two teens will inspire others. Do you agree? Who is someone who has inspired you? In what ways?

RELATED LINKS

BBC article about Emma Raducanu: https://www.bbc.com/news/av/uk-58534876

CBC article about Leylah Fernandez: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/tennis/leylah-fernandez-pays-tribute-to-new-york-city-on-anniversary-of-9-11-1.6172904

This February 2021 CBC article gives a lot of background on Leylah Fernandez and what she had to do to become the tennis star she is today: https://www.cbc.ca/sports/tennis/tennis-leylah-annie-fernandez-1.5901210