Francis Tiafoe, a 15-year-old American looking to reach his first main juniors draw at the United States Open, faced three successive match points against a boy three years older than him.
Tiafoe will play his first main-draw match Monday against Quentin Halys, a 16-year-old unseeded player from Bondy, France.
He grew up at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., where his father, Constant, an immigrant from Sierra Leone, was a live-in custodial worker from 1999 to 2010. Francis and his twin brother, Franklin,roamed the courts as little boys, picking up rackets and hitting balls after hours until some of the coaches, particularly Kouznetsov, discovered their talent.
Tiafoe is currently ranked No. 87 by the International Tennis Federation, eighth highest among American boys. He is among 16 American boys in the 64-player juniors main draw, which began play Sunday.