Column: Catching up with Taylor Johnson at the French Open
Former Prescott resident and 16 year-old Taylor Johnson just completed her fourth major with playing this year’s girl’s 18-and-under singles and doubles events on the red clay of Roland Garros, better known as the French Open.
The 5-foot-9 left hander, now living in Redondo Beach, California, said her favorite player is Rafael Nadal and she’s coached by former star tennis player Rosie Casals.
Currently Taylor is ranked No. 8 in the ITF and was seeded No. 10 in the singles at the French and No. 3 in doubles.
She was nice enough to do a short interview before she begins her grass court adventure, which ends at Wimbledon in a few short weeks.
Taylor and her family have shown the community and her peers that it is possible to reach the highest levels of the game with a good start even in the small town of Prescott. The path isn’t easy and it takes a special devotion, lots of hard work, a good network of people around you, money and many short and long-range goals. Maybe add in a little luck here and there as well.
It’s more than a little fun to follow her journey and we wish her the best!
You have now played the red clay of the French Open how do you like that surface and what are it’s plus’s and minus’s?
“I really love red clay! Maybe it doesn’t suit my game style the best, but I still really love grinding on the dirt.”
Seeded No. 10 in singles and No. 3 in doubles, is there extra pressure to perform based on those numbers?
“I try not to think too much about the seeding. Everyone is tough in these events.”
You had a tough first round in singles, losing in 3 sets, and made it to the quarter-finals in doubles, how does that affect your ITF ranking and is that something you have to worry much about at this point?
“Yeah it wasn’t the result I had hoped for in this tournament but just have to go back to the drawing board! I don’t really look at the rankings too much.”
Playing as much as you are and jumping many time zones is it tough to stay healthy - get the right amount of sleep and eat right?
“It is definitely tough to stay healthy, I like a lot of sleep and it is sometimes tough but definitely a priority for me. The player’s cafe is usually pretty healthy so that is a bonus.”
What did you like most about playing your first French Open in the girls 18 and under singles and doubles?
“I really love Paris, it is a beautiful city and the environment at Roland Garros is very nice.”
Which of the 4 major tournaments do you like playing the most?
“I have now played all four slams, all of them are very different. I have to say the US Open is still my favorite!”
Did either of your parents make the trip?
“My parents did not come, just my coach Rosie Casals.”
I’m assuming you are now getting ready for the grass court circuit which leads up to Wimbledon in a few weeks - how do you like the green stuff in comparison to hard and clay courts?
“I like the grass! It suits my game and it is going to be a great time.”
Will you be playing on a World Team Tennis franchise team this summer?
“I am not quite sure.”
What does it take to stay in the right frame of mind to play these tough events week-in and week-out?
“It definitely is tough mentally!! I have been on the road for seven weeks so I am excited to head home.
The Prescott folks still think of you as one of their own - anything you’d like to say to them?
“I just want to thank you all for supporting and following me! I will always be the little girl playing on the local courts in Prescott! I miss everyone!”