The U.S. Open starts Monday in New York, and there’s reason for Rhode Island tennis fans to pay attention other than Serena Williams’s bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Jared Donaldson, the 18-year-old from Chepachet just three years removed from the Rhode Island Interscholastic League singles championship, is in the main draw. His remarkable journey to a professional tennis career will continue when he plays Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic in a first-round match at Flushing Meadows, probably on Tuesday. Donaldson is ranked No. 146 this week, his career high. Rosol comes in at No. 87.
This will be Donaldson’s second appearance at the Open. He lost in the first round last year.
Donaldson, the highest ranking American teenager on the ATP World Tour, has had an interesting summer on the pro circuit. He defeated fellow American Austin Krajicek in the first round of the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport and then played an uninspiring second-round match and lost to John-Patrick Smith of Australia in straight sets. He won a match at the Binghamton Challenger and lost to 535th-ranked Sekou Bangora. At the Atlanta Open he fought through three qualifying matches and won his first-round match in the main draw. He lost in straight sets in the second round. He was 1-1 at a Challenger at Aptos, Calif.
Donaldson received a wild card into the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and upset Nicolas Mahut, the 2013 Hall of Fame champion, in three sets in the first round. He fell to Jerzy Janowicz of Poland in the second round. Last week at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina he lost a heartbreaker to Australian Sam Groth, 7-6, 6-7, 6-7. The second-set tiebreaker went to 10-8 and the third-set breaker to 7-5.
If anything, Donaldson is learning what it takes to get by the second round on the tour. He is in the bottom half of the Open draw, and it he somehow manages to win two matches, he would most likely face second-seeded Roger Federer in the third round.
Donaldson is 4-6 in singles this ear and has earned $116, 599 in prize money.
Serena Williams will play the opening match in the evening session Monday night. She is trying to become the sixth player and fourth woman in tennis history to win the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in the same calendar year. Don Budge did it first in 1938. Maureen Brinker Connolly followed in 1953. The Australian great Rod Laver did it as an amateur in 1962 and as a pro in 1969. Australian Margaret Smith Court won all four in 1970, and Steffi Graf of Germany won her Grand Slam in 1988.
Williams is also seeking her 22nd major championship, which would tie her with the Hall of Famer Graf for second place behind Hall of Famer Court’s 24.