Column: Making the ‘Big Show’ for the 1st time

'My Point'

Once again we have a short interview with our very own Taylor Johnson, who this year at the U.S. Open will be playing her first major (grand slam) WTA event in the women’s doubles main draw. Johnson will also be playing in the girls 18 and under U.S. Open in singles and doubles, so it’ll be a full two weeks of giving it her all in the endeavor of a life-time.

Originally going to school here in Prescott and taking up the game of tennis with USPTA Tennis Professional Sterling Fetty while at the Prescott Racquet Club, Johnson caught the tennis bug and her parents were willing to make the sacrifices necessary to follow her dream of playing top-level tennis on a world platform. First a move from rural Prescott to Phoenix, later to Redondo Beach, California to be nearer the USTA Training Center in Carson. It hasn’t been easy, but who said it would be with now four-plus junior Grand Slams played and travel all over the world the past two years.

The Open, held in Flushing Meadows, New York, runs from Aug. 28 to Sept. 10 this year, and at this writing the women’s doubles draw hasn’t been put together yet, so you’ll have to do the leg-work to see when Johnson will play her first match, as well as her girls 18 and under matches.

Currently Johnson is ranked No. 12 world-wide in the girls 18 and under division and 1,069 on the women’s tour with only three events played professionally to date.

We wish her the best and many eyes from the Prescott area will be upon her. Good luck!

Here’s a Q&A session with the former Prescott star.

1) Rumor has it that you received a wild card into the U.S. Open as one of the top 18 and under juniors in the United States - how did that take place and your thoughts?

TJ: Yes? Me and my doubles partner won the Junior National Hard Courts, so we get a wildcard in the women’s main-draw of the doubles U.S. Open.

2) Will you also be playing in the girls 18 and under division in singles and doubles - and with whom in doubles?

TJ: Yes - I’ll be playing in the junior division as well, in singles and doubles - partnering with Maria Portillo Ramirez.

3) Leading up to this big event, have you been playing more junior events or WTA satellite tournaments for experience and to gain WTA points? Which is more important in your development at this time and why?

TJ: I have been playing a bit of both, more juniors because of the (junior grand slams) French Open and Wimbledon. I’m going to play a good mix of both this fall.

4) The former great player Rosie Casals is one of your coaches and travels with you at times - what advice and type of training does she provide you?

TJ: Yes, she’s a great coach - I love having her on my team? She has given me so much wisdom and taught me so many invaluable things. She is definitely hard on me but we have built a very good relationship.

5) Now at the age of 17 and the choice of playing college tennis or the tour looms within the next 12 months or so - are you leaning any direction at this point in time?

TJ: I’m just a junior in high school, so I have 2 years to decide. I want to go pro, but we’ll see how my development is going in the when the time comes.

6) What was your most exciting moment playing at this last Wimbledon?

TJ: Just playing there. Wimbledon is always a huge pleasure playing at. I enjoyed every moment, love the atmosphere.

7) If you could project 5 to 10 years down the line, what would you like to see take place with your life?

TJ: I am going to be playing on the pro tour!

8) What are the toughest things to deal with in trying to make it on the women’s professional tour?

TJ: There are a lot of difficult factors in tennis, but in the end, I believe it is all worth it for something you love.

9) And if things don’t pan out on a professional level of play - what’s plan two for you?

TJ: I haven’t really thought about plan B much, hopefully sticking to plan A.

I would like to thank the people of Prescott for continuously supporting me - it means so much!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@gmail.com.