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Where are the young Americans?

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Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Where are the up-and-coming Americans on the WTA Tour? Well...they're virtually nowhere to be found.

American women are sprinkled throughout the top 100 in the WTA rankings (12 in all), including three of the top-nine players in the world (Lindsay Davenport, Venus Williams and Serena Williams), but as far as I can tell, there aren't too many promising studs on the horizon.

After the No. 2 Davenport and the Williams sisters, who are seventh and ninth, respectively, in the rankings, the United States accounts for only nine of the next 91 players, and none of 'em appear to have a shot at a major title.

Alexa Glatch
Alexa Glatch is a promising 16-year-old from Newport Beach, California.
After the "Big Three," next on the list of Americans is average veteran Meghann Shaughnessy (52nd) and average veteran Jill Craybas (57th). The first "young" American on the ledger is No. 60 Laura Granville, and she's already 24, which is not that young anymore on the WTA circuit.

Granville is followed by No. 67 Mashona Washington, the 29-year-old younger sister of former ATP performer MaliVai Washington, the 1996 Wimbledon runner- up. An eventual Wimbledon runner-up herself she's not.

The African-American Washington is followed by 32-year-old Lisa Raymond (69th) and then 19-year-old African-American Jamea Jackson, the first legitimate youngster (in terms of age only) on the list of Yanks. But whether she's young or old, no one is viewing the No. 76 Jackson as a present or future Grand Slam contender.

The Americans in the top 100 round out with No. 77 Amy Frazier, No. 83 Shenay Perry and No. 85 Abigail Spears. I don't wanna say Frazier's old...actually, I do, considering she just turned 33 this week, which officially makes her a relic. At least Perry's only 21 and Spears is 24, but, let's face it, neither of these women are what you would call rising stars in the women's game.

Sure, Americans accounted for half the Grand Slam finalists this year (that's 4-of-8 if you're counting at home), but they were the usual suspects. The 23- year-old Serena beat the 29-year-old Davenport in the Aussie Open final, and the 25-year-old Venus topped Davenport in the Wimbledon finale.

So, where are the promising kids?

The rising stars are not coming out of the U.S. right now, they're coming from places like Slovenia (Jelena Jankovic), Serbia (Ana Ivanovic), the Czech Republic (Nicole Vaidisova), Germany (Anna-Lena Groenefeld), Russia (Anna Chakvetadze), China (Shuai Peng), India (Sania Mirza), Bulgaria (Sesil Karatantcheva), and so on.

Don't look now, but for the third time in three years the Americans failed to place a woman in the final of our Open -- the U.S. Open. Belgium's Kim Clijsters beat France's Mary Pierce in the 2005 final just two weeks ago; Svetlana Kuznetsova bested Elena Dementieva in the 2004 all-Russian title match; and Justine Henin-Hardenne topped Clijsters in an all-Belgian affair in 2003.

Prior to '03, at least one American (Davenport, Venus or Serena) had appeared in the U.S. Open final for six straight years, including three all-American bouts. But let's not forget that before Davenport, Venus and Serena, there was an American-born-woman finalist drought at the Open that lasted for 12 years. Yes, 12 years without an American-born woman in the U.S. Open final from 1985-1996. After Chris Evert lost to Martina Navratilova in the 1984 final, the U.S. failed to place another woman in the title match until Venus lost to Swiss Martina Hingis in 1997.

Where are the young Davenports, Venuses and Serenas? Quite frankly, I don't know.

A possibility could be 16-year-old Californian Alexa Glatch, who reached the junior girls' final at the Open earlier this month, only to lose to top-seeded Belarusian Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. Glatch was also the junior girls doubles runner-up at the Open, playing alongside fellow 16-year-old countrywoman Vania King.

In only her second WTA-level event, Glatch reached a semifinal in Forest Hills last month, but lost to the rising 34th-ranked Mirza in straights. And Glatch made her U.S. Open main draw debut a few weeks ago and reached the second round before falling to the world No. 17 Jankovic.

The still-growing Glatch, who's listed at 5-foot-11 and 145 pounds, was named the 2003 Junior Player of the Year by Inside Tennis Magazine. The Newport Beach native is a respectable 3-3 in her WTA matches this year.

Glatch aside, the young talent appears a bit thin on the U.S. side.

Ace or double fault? Send your comments to Scott Riley at sriley@sportsnetwork.com.
Scott Riley


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