Sixteen-year-old Francis Tiafoe, who’s achieved more at a younger age than Agassi, Borg, and other teen tennis prodigies, may be America’s next homegrown star. Born in suburban Washington, D.C., he frequently stayed with his dad, who emigrated to the U.S. from Sierra Leone, took a maintenance job at a nearby country club, and lived in a spare room at the facility. Taking tennis lessons while his dad worked, Francis, who lives in College Park, Md., immersed himself in the sport so passionately that he’d eavesdrop on classes for elite players when his lesson ended and would practice alone for hours on end. In the cutthroat world of tennis, he’s defeated seasoned professionals en route to being ranked among the world’s top junior players, and he quips that only the net posts have been on the court longer than him.
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