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US OPEN: SoCal earns hardware, respect on grand stage

With #USOpen50 in the history books, let’s look back at more than two weeks of exciting play that saw multiple Southern California athletes hoist trophies and celebrate accomplishment in the final Grand Slam of the year.

First, the champions. Mike Bryan (Camarillo) is used to winning titles alongside his brother Bob. When the Bryan Bros. split due to Bob’s injury, Mike joined forces with Jack Sock, the top ranked American. The duo raised eyebrows when they won the Wimbledon Men’s title, and followed that up with an impressive run at the Open. At 40 years old, Bryan is the number one doubles player in the world, more than 3000 points ahead of the runner-up.

Woodland Hills’ Emilio Nava

When CoCo Vandeweghe (Rancho Santa Fe) was eliminated in the first round of singles, the expectation was that we’d heard the last of CoCo during this year’s Open. Surprise, surprise. Vandeweghe and her teammate, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty, stormed into the doubles final and upended the #2 seeds to earn the women’s doubles championship. As a result, Vandeweghe jumps a big 32 spots to #20 on the world doubles rankings. She’ll look to rebound in singles, where she fell nearly out of the top 50.

Emilio Nava (Woodland Hills) and his teammate, Axel Nefve, were within just a few points of hoisting the Boy’s doubles trophy on Sunday. After splitting two sets, the match ended 10-8 in a tiebreaker that favored their opponents, leaving Nava/Nefve with a second place finish. It was their third deciding tiebreaker of the tournament for Nava, who reached the final of an ITF event in Milan earlier this year.

Even in defeat, #SoCalTennis was represented by some inspiring performances during the Open. In Wheelchair Quads, eventual winner Dylan Alcott had to work hard to overcome Fullerton’s David Wagner, the top seed and world number one. Junior singles featured multiple SoCal entries, including 17-year old quarterfinalist Brandon Nakashima of San Diego, and Katrina Scott, a 14-year old from Woodland Hills who recorded her first US Open win in Girls’ doubles with teammate Robin Montgomery.

The lasting impressions of the Open will be the controversies, the oppressive heat, and perhaps, one day, the emergence of a new force in Women’s tennis. While it may not be national news, let’s not neglect the emergence of #SoCalTennis as a global force. These great performances are worthy of celebration, plus great anticipation as SoCal continues to push the envelope in US Tennis.

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