TALKING WITH... ALISON RISKE
17 years old (Date of Birth: 7/3/1990)
Most of the players who reach the No. 1 spot of the rankings in the 18s have been near the top of their various age groups throughout their junior tennis careers. Alison Riske is not one of those players. The 17 year old has not spent a lot of time far from her Pennsylvania home, which has left her in older divisions without high rankings -- until now.
You didn't seen the name Alison Riske much nationally until 2005 when, by junior tennis standards, she was already an ancient 14. She had barely cracked the top 100 in '04 (No. 93), but climbed over 60 spots the following year after making the finals of the Copper Bowl and fourth place at a National Open. In 2006, she battled a back injury after picking up third place at a February National Open and didn't play much before November -- when she won her state championship and led her Peters Township high school team to their first ever title. That was the start of a wild ride for Alison and she's still on it.
After her high school championship, Alison won a National Open and then started 2007 by placing fifth at the USTA National Winter Championship. She continued on an upswing, winning a National Open the next month and placing fourth at the USTA National Spring Championships in March. In the summer, Alison added to her trophy case with fifth place at the USTA National Claycourts and second place at the USTA National Hardcourts. She also won the singles title at the ITA Summer Claycourt Championships, a feat her sister Sarah had accomplished in 2000. (Alison & Chris Foster also picked up a second Mixed Doubles crown at that event, after winning one in 2005),
Alison Riske had a taste of the world of professional tennis in 2007 when, entered as a wildcard, she defeated No. 30 Sirana Cirstea of Romania at the U.S. Open women's singles qualifying first round, before losing to (practice partner and former Vanderbilt teammate of sister Sarah) Julie Ditty. A month later Alison proved her U.S. Open round win wasn't just a fluke when she made it through the Qualifying of a $50k Pro Circuit event in Kentucky.
I almost always enjoy my job, but some interviews are just plain fun. Spending time with Alison Riske definitely came under that category. Afterall, who couldn't have fun with a girl who was having the time of her life in one of the most competitive events in the world -- the U.S. Open?
by Marcia Frost