U.S Men’s Tennis is Showing Signs of Life


It’s no secret that American men’s tennis has been in dire straits for a long time. The U.S hasn’t had a major winner since Andy Roddick won the U.S Open in 2003, and his retirement left a gaping hole at the top of the game. While John Isner and Mardy Fish have flirted with the top 10, neither has come close to seriously contending for a major title, and a number of well-regarded prospects have flamed out.

However, 2015 has been a solid year for U.S men’s tennis, with Isner leading a solid group that has posted some decent results to open the season. The Americans have only one man in the top 20 (Isner at 18), but Sam Querrey (42), Donald Young (45) and Jack Sock (46) join him in the top 50, with Steve Johnson (52) knocking on the door.

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Isner just finished one of his best runs in years in Miami, reaching the semi and ousting Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori in succession before bowing out to eventual champion Novak Djokovic. It was a dominant display from the 6’10” Isner, and a reminder that while is game may have a lot of holes, his serve is a great equalizer. Isner will never win a major; his all-around game is lacking and he tires himself out by playing long, tiebreak-filled matches. But when he’s in a serving groove, like he was last week, he’s virtually impossible to defend. He’s capable of going deep at some big tournaments, likely taking out some big names along the way.

Aug 6, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Jack Sock (USA) hits a forehand against Milos Raonic (CAN) on day three of the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Rexall Centre. Mandatory Credit: Peter Llewellyn-USA TODAY Sports

Sock seems to have the most potential out of the bunch. An aggressive baseliner, Sock owns a booming serve and a powerful topspin forehand, as well as excellent touch at the net. He’s an accomplished doubles player, winning the 2014 Wimbledon title with partner Vasek Pospisil, and he may only be scratching the surface of his singles potential. After missing time due to a hip injury, Sock made a strong season debut at Indian Wells, reaching the fourth round, before reaching the third round in Miami. Sock has a chance to continue his climb up the rankings in the coming months; unlike most American players, he’s quite comfortable on the clay, reaching the third round at the French Open last year.

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The rest of the group, while hardly a murderer’s row, have carved out decent niches in the middle tier of the game. Young, once heralded as a top prospect, never came close to living up to his potential, but he’s off to a solid start this season, compiling a strong 13-7 record. Johnson, an NCAA champion at USC, has quietly strung together some solid results over the last few months, including a third round showing at the Australian Open. Querrey, like Young, has never really panned out, but when he’s healthy, the big man has the serve and forehand to challenge anyone.

It’s not exactly a return to the glory days, but at least it’s something. The U.S now boasts five solid pros who can compete and string together some solid results. Isner can beat anybody on a good serving day, Young and Johnson are confident and in good form, and Sock has legit potential. There may not be a top 10 player or a future major winner in the bunch, but they serve as a reminder that American tennis is still alive and well.