Just when we thought the era of the teen prodigy was over, along comes a lively, high-intensity teenager from California named CiCi Bellis.
At the end of 2014, Bellis – then just 15 years old -- was the best junior in the world. A year ago, she was at the crossroads, deciding between a scholarship at Stanford or turning pro. Given that she was then ranked 120 in the world, Bellis opted for the WTA. And since then she’s gone even further, this year earning wins over such elite players as two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, two-time Grand Slam singles winner Svetlana Kuznetsova and crafty veteran Agnieszka Radwanska. And though CiCi lost a tight match yesterday, 7-5 in the third versus Nao Hibino, there’s little doubt she will be a significant American contender for many years to come.
James Blake recently spoke with CiCi. Even in conversation, her sense of urgency and engagement shines through.