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Twenty-year old Frances Tiafoe will become the first JTCC alumnus to represent Team USA in the Davis Cup when he plays Croatian Marin Cilic in the second match of the World Group semifinal in Zadar, Croatia on Friday.
Tiafoe makes his Davis Cup debut following a standout season where he attained a top 40 ATP world ranking. His results include capturing his first ATP Tour title at the Delray Beach Open and scoring wins over top 15 players Juan Martin del Potro, Thomas Berdych and Pablo Carreno Busta.
The College Park, MD native’s run to the finals of the Estoril Open in Portugal played on red clay during April may have caught the attention of US captain Jim Courier. The semifinal tie in Zadar is on the same surface, and Tiaofe has proved his ability to compete with world’s best on the clay.
Cilic and Tiafoe have never faced each other at ATP Tour level, but did clash in the opening match of the 2017 Laver Cup in Prague, Czech Republic. The Croatian narrowly prevailed in two tiebreak sets on that occasion.
Tiafoe has also been nominated to play in a potentially decisive fifth and final rubber on Sunday against 21-year-old and world #18 Borna Coric. If the duo do play to decide the tie, then it will be the first meeting between these two up and coming talents.
JTCC has had a number of other graduates and students who have represented their countries in the Davis Cup in recent years. These include Treat Huey (Philippines), Ammar and Saud Alhogbani (Saudi Arabia) and Brandon Perez (Venezuela). Denis Kudla was also a member of Team USA at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Games in 2016.
“Frances has always had a burning desire to represent his country on the world stage,” said Vesa Ponkka, Senior Director of Tennis at JTCC. “An away tie in a World Group semifinal is a daunting challenge, but I have no doubt that Frances will rise to the occasion and maintain the superb form he has shown all year.”