Among the many new faces in American tennis is Alison Riske. The 23-year-old from Pittsburgh is having the tournament of her life this week at the US Open. Yesterday she advanced to the fourth round after beating former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova 63, 60.
Riske just lost to Kvitova 10 days ago at Winston-Salem, but revenge was sweet on Saturday and so was the reward.
Ranked No. 81, she will now break the Top 60 now. Riske’s draw places her in her first Grand Slam fourth round against veteran Daniela Hantuchova tomorrow. Here’s more on Alison:
On her dad, Al, getting her to play tennis at age 3
My dad always wanted his kids to be in an individual sport so they could kind of determine their own destiny. Both my sister and brother played. Once I came along, I didn’t have a choice. He kind of forced it upon me. But I grew to love it. I won my first tournament when I was nine, eight or nine. After that, you know, it was kind of like, All right, I like the trophies.
On playing tennis with her sister, former WTA pro Sarah, and brother Dan
Well, my sister will go out. I like to take her out there just so I can beat her up a little bit. No, just kidding. We haven’t gone out for a while. I think she still plays for fun. My brother not so much. Maybe we’ll get them all together.
After the "workout" comes this view!!! So worth every step!!😍 pic.twitter.com/QiYrqIGDIy
— Alison Riske (@Riske4rewards) May 23, 2013
On turning pro instead of going to college
I actually signed with Vanderbilt in ’09. I had every intention of going to college. But I had a sponsor come out two weeks before class began. I figured this is my chance. Yeah, it’s been wonderful.
[The sponsor is] just an individual man. He owns a chemical company. He was a family friend, a huge tennis fanatic. Tech Chem is his company. I’ve been so blessed to have him behind me.
On her coaching team
My coach Yves Boulais, his wife Patricia Hy. She used to be 28 in the world. He coached her. I’ve worked with him on and off since I was 14. They have two little kids, a boy and a girl, who are like my little brother and sister. They’re all here, which is so awesome. The whole JTCC family, Junior Tennis Champion Center in College Park, Maryland, that’s where I train. I feel like we’re one big family there. It’s a great environment.
On if she’s a Steelers or Pirates fan
I don’t follow the Pirates too much. They’ve been doing really well. And the Penguins, I mostly follow Sidney Crosby. That’s mostly what I care about. Definitely a sports fan.
On playing full time on the WTA
Obviously would love to be able to play a full WTA schedule. That’s obviously the goal when you turn pro. You also have to be sure you’re playing enough matches. Sometimes you have to go back and play some ITFs. Yeah, it’s been wonderful. I had a great summer. I enjoyed every tournament, for sure. It was fun.
On grass being her favorite surface
I definitely love it. I love it. But I enjoy all the surfaces. I mean, I really do. Every surface has kind of its own special feel, I guess you could say. But, yeah, I do love grass, for sure.
On being insprired by her good friend Melanie Oudin’s US Open quarterfinal run
Yeah, definitely. I mean, I don’t really think like that. But to some extent, yeah, if she can do it maybe I could, too.
On the best tennis players from Pittsburgh
Well, I’d like to think I’m up there. I mean, I know Bjorn Fratangelo, a junior, doing great. Gretchen Rush I believe had a pretty good career. Yeah, hopefully I’m working my way up.
On any jealousy among the new group of young American girls
Obviously, you know, when everybody else wins, you’re like, Oh, gosh, I wish I could be doing that, too. But I think that’s why it is great, because it shows you that I hit with them, I practice with them, I can do it too. It’s really great. Like I said, all of us really are friends. We do talk to each other. We hang out, eat lunch together, go to dinner. I’m playing doubles with Melanie in a couple hours. Mel and I are really close. It’s cool to have everyone’s support.
On carrying a blanket wherever she goes (she leaves it in the hotel room)
Yes, it’s very true. It goes everywhere.
Just like Linus. It’s like a very faded musky green, like dirty looking color.
My siblings always used to hide it. Used to make me so mad. No, it’s been there since the second I was born. It’s been around the world.
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