Alyssa Ahn reminisces on her time at US Junior Open

Photo courtesy of Alyssa Ahn.

TPHS tennis phenom Alyssa Ahn (10) competed against the sport’s top young stars at the 2022 U.S. Open Junior Championships from Sept. 4 to Sept. 10 in Flushing, N.Y.

After her first place finish at this summer’s USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 16s National Championships, Ahn qualified for the U.S. Junior Open, one of the most prestigious accomplishments in youth tennis.

“I never really expected to reach this level,” Ahn said. “It’s an awesome achievement.”

In her first round, Ahn faced off against Taylah Preston, a 16-year-old from Australia, ending the match in defeat.

“She has really good sets. She’s [ranked] around six hundred in pros, which is really good, and she’s sixth in world junior [rankings],” Ahn said. “It was tough, but she’s just a really good player.”

Despite her unfortunate first-round exit, Ahn reflected fondly on her time in New York.

“If I can, I definitely would [go back] because it’s just one of the coolest experiences I’ve had,” the 15-year-old said. “The environment at The Open was just amazing.”

Ahn’s coach at Barnes Tennis Center, Steve Adamson, also traveled with her to New York for the tournament, noting the significance of the moment.

“When we got to our first practice on the U.S. Open courts, Serena [Williams] was playing a night match right next to us,” he said.

Adamson began working with Ahn when she was 11 years old. Since then, he has taken note of her progress on the court.

“I don’t think people realize how hard it is to reach that kind of level – being able to compete with these top people around the world,” Adamson said.

Ahn, although no longer playing for the TPHS team, excels on and off the court as a player, student and friend.

“Not only is she one of the best players you’ll ever meet, but she’s really one of the kindest, most humble people I know,” Lindsay Van Winkle (12), one of the TPHS varsity tennis captains, said.

Even with her busy schedule, Ahn finds ways to balance tennis with her social life, while staying focused on her classes.

“I always try to set goals both academically and with tennis, to me, just striving towards those goals and having plans to reach those goals is something that really helps me stay organized,” she said.

Ahn’s connection to her sport, however, stretches far beyond practices and tournaments. As the daughter of a former Air Force Academy men’s tennis player who has always encouraged her to play with her heart and look out for others, Ahn feels a special connection to the game.

“I’m in a non-profit organization called Second Serve, which gives tennis equipment to less fortunate kids,” she said. “Giving back to the community that I came from has always been important to me.”

As she looks toward her future in the sport, Ahn does not see one obvious path.

“College is my biggest goal, but I haven’t really thought about becoming a professional yet,” she said “I’ll have to see how things turn out.”

Adamson, her coach, echoed her outlook.

“She’s on a great path. If she continues to work and thrive as she has been, there’s definitely an opportunity for her in or after college, but she should just take it one step at a time,” he said. “It really comes down to what she decides to put her mind to.”

Next year Ahn will be playing in the USTA Billie Jean King Girls’ 18s Singles National Championships.

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