Photo: David KenasSofia Kenin (USA)
She’s the only American girl taking part in the tennis event at the Nanjing 2014 Youth Olympic Games on 17-24 August but, despite the absence of any female compatriots, 15-year-old Sofia Kenin can’t wait to touch down in China.
The junior world No. 29, who made her junior Grand Slam debut at this year’s Roland Garros before going on to record her first win in the junior majors at Wimbledon, is brimming with anticipation for the second edition of the Games.
“I’m really, really excited,” said Kenin, who will be joined by fellow American Alex Rybakov in Nanjing. “I’m looking forward to meeting different athletes and competing for my country.”
Kenin has represented USA once before - while on Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas duty in May in Montreal, Canada where she won two doubles and two singles matches to help her nation qualify for the Junior Fed Cup Finals in San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 23-28 September.
That experience has left her with a good idea of what to expect when she competes in country colours again.
“It’s an incredible honour,” said Kenin. “You’re competing and there’s so many different things going on around you. I played in Canada earlier this year and we won. It was incredible. I made a ton of new friends, we all supported each other and it really, really helped me.”
Nanjing will, of course, be an entirely new experience for the Moscow-born American, who admits that she may have to widen her taste buds during the trip.
“I’ve never been to China but I heard it’s really nice there,” she said. “It’s big, has a different culture, obviously different foods – I’ll have to adjust to the food. I’m kind of a picky eater but I’m going to have to change that.”
Kenin may too have to adjust to the energy-sapping heat in Nanjing, which can reach uncomfortable levels during this time of year, but hopes her Florida roots will give her a leg up on her rivals.
“I’m used to the heat,” she said. “But [in Nanjing] I’m going to have to hydrate especially more. It’s more than 100 degrees sometimes there.”
Weather conditions aside, Kenin has grand designs on a successful showing in Nanjing.
“I’d obviously like to win for my country,” she said. “It would be nice to be an American coming back home and saying I won and that I represented my country. I just want to fight as hard as I can and have a great competition there.”