Photo: Fred and Susan MullaneTami Grende (INA)
It may be 30 years since John McEnroe last won the US Open but the former world No 1’s influence lives on, it seems, in the most surprising of places.
As day two of the junior events saw the competitors brave blistering heat, top seed CiCi Bellis and Wimbledon champion Jelena Ostapenko cruised into the second round with equally convincing wins.
But the McEnroe influence was found on Court 6 where Tami Grende beat American Sofia Kenin 63 62 to advance to round two.
Grende counts McEnroe as her favourite player but as she moved seamlessly into the second round, it was not immediately obvious as the calm, even-tempered Indonesian advanced with ease.
“It’s not really the way he plays but it’s the way he has his emotions on the court,” the 17-year-old said.
“When I play, I don’t have any emotions. If I win a point I stay quiet, but when he wins a point, he’s all over it. And when he’s throwing a tantrum he’s letting it all out and I can’t let it out. I have to learn that from him.”
Grende said she had seen a few of McEnroe’s matches in his pomp, including on television when she was playing at Wimbledon, where she won the doubles title two months ago. “They were always showing old videos,” she said.
Born and raised in Indonesia, Grende has received funding to travel as part of the Grand Slam Development Fund Touring Team to Europe earlier this year.
Grende said her win at Wimbledon had given her added belief, even if it was doubles and not singles. “It gave me a lot of confidence, but people don’t really give you attention when you win doubles, only when they win singles do they get really scared,” she said. “But I take it as an advantage because it is a very prestigious tournament and I was very lucky to win it. It was a great experience.”
It was Ostapenko who won the singles title at Wimbledon and the Latvian began her quest for back-to-back grand slams with a 61 62 win over Theresa Van Zyl of South Africa.
Like Grende, Ostapenko said her confidence was sky high after her Wimbledon victory.
“Of course everyone wants to win, and I think if I play my best I think I have a good chance,” she said. “Wimbledon gave me a lot of confidence because I played a lot of good matches there and also coming back in the third set in two matches, was a big thing.”
Top seed Bellis, who stunned Australian Open runner-up Dominka Cibulkova in round one of the main draw, had no trouble readjusting to the juniors as she beat Renata Zarazua of Mexico 61 63.
Fourth seed Alicia Tornado Black saw off Australia’s Kimberley Birrell 75 60 but another Australian got the better of an American as 13th seed Naithka Baines edged out Ingrid Neel 67 76 61 and 12th seed Anastasiya Komardina of Russia eased through when Romania’s Elena Ruse quit trailing 60 31.
Third seed Jared Donaldson crushed Peru’s Pedro Iamachkine 61 60 while fourth seed Stefan Kozlov, the runner-up in Australia and Wimbledon, opened his bid to go one better with a 62 63 win over Jan Zielinski of Poland.
Tenth seed Michael Mmoh suffered a first round exit to Yunseong Chung of Korea, 64 36 67(3). Chung is part of the Grand Slam Development Fund Touring Team. Touring team members have got off to a strong start at Flushing Meadows, with first round wins for Petros Chrysochos, Hong Seong Chan (KOR), Vera Lapko (LAT) and Iryna Shymanovich (BLR).
For full results and draws click here