Tornado Alicia Black has a memorable name. The question is, does she have a memorable game?
This will certainly be a memorable U.S. Open for the 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Fla. She will play Ana Konjuh of Croatia Sunday for the girls junior title at the Open. Black is a wild card playing in her second Slam event. Konjuh is the No. 2 seed among the girls and defeated Black in the second round of last year's Open juniors.
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Saturday, after her 7-5, 6-3 semifinal win over Antonia Lottner of Germany, Black shyly and briefly answered questions. She seems far more comfortable in the heat of competition than the glare of the spotlight.
Tornado isn't her given first name, but Hurricane is the given name of her younger sister, who is a highly ranked 12-year-old. Her father, Sylvester, played Davis Cup tennis for Jamaica and ran track. Her mother, Gayal, was a college swimmer. According to Tornado, her parents decided early on that if their daughters were to become stars, they would have names to storm the tennis world.
She used to be embarrassed by the name, but in the context of the Open, it fits. "I don't mind it," she says.
Despite the Fujita scale suggested by her name, Black isn't the most powerful player by a mile, and has a serve that will have to improve to compete against the women of the tour.
"I'm trying some new things on my serve," is all she will say, though she was surprised to learn she had no double faults in her match Saturday. "Now that I hear that, it's good," she said with a sheepish smile.
"She will have to be aggressive and stay committed to her shots," coach Lawrence Carpio said. "She's done a good job of that throughout the tournament. She's feeling nerves a little bit, but she has been fighting through them very well."
Fighting back seems to be a trademark. She fought through the No. 4 seed, Barbora Krejickova, in the second round for a 7-5, 7-5 win when she was down service breaks in both sets. She was down a service break in the first set of her quarterfinal win over Iryna Shymanovich. And she was down in the first set against Lottner Saturday.
"Yeah, I like to fight a lot in matches," she said.
Sunday, she fights for a title.