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Rising Tennis Stars Hope To Ace Competition At The Pan Am Games

By Kendra Hansey | July 09, 2015, 6:52 p.m. (ET)

Lauren Davis returns a shot in her match against Sloane Stephens of the United States during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 1, 2015 in London.

The U.S. tennis team will attempt to smash its way to the medals podium at the 2015 Pan American Games. While the U.S. squad is comprised of all Pan American Games first-timers, it boasts a well-seasoned background.

Leading the women’s field is rising tennis star Lauren Davis, 21. From competing at the Australian Open and Wimbledon to playing on the U.S. Fed Cup squad for the World Group Play-Offs in Italy this past April, Davis contributes an extensive background of upper-level experience to this group.

“Being part of such a wonderful event is an honor that I am very proud to be a part of,” said Davis about the Pan Am Games. “My training will be the same for the Games as any other tournament.”

As of the end of June, Davis was the top-ranked competitor in the women’s field, ranking No. 75 overall in the WTA.

The U.S. women, coached by Kathy Rinaldi, will be vying for medals after capturing both gold and silver in singles and silver in the doubles event at the 2011 Pan American Games.

Rallying alongside Davis are current USTA Pro Circuit members Louisa Chirico and Sachia Vickery.

Chirico, 19, is the youngest member of the U.S. tennis team. The former junior standout helped lead the U.S. to the Junior Fed Cup title in 2012. Chirico has won three singles and two doubles titles on the ITF tour in her career and made her Grand Slam debut at the 2015 French Open after winning the USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge.

Another strong addition, Vickery has a history of success at the national level. The former USTA national junior champion won her first two singles titles in January by winning back-to-back $25,000 events on the USTA Pro Circuit. The 20-year-old competed in the 2013 U.S. Open as well as the 2014 Australian Open.

Meanwhile, Dennis Novikov heads the men’s squad. The 22-year-old won his second USTA Pro Circuit singles title this past March in addition to various USTA doubles titles and ITF singles titles. The former USTA boys’ 18s national champion in both singles and doubles has competed in other large scale tournaments, such as the U.S. Open.

Serving on the men’s team with Novikov are Jean-Yves Aubone and Gonzales Austin. The men are under the instruction of Brad Stine.

The veteran and doubles specialist of the team, Aubone, 27, has won numerous USTA Pro Circuit doubles titles over the past three years and as a junior, represented the U.S. in the Junior Davis Cup competition. 

Austin, a 22-year-old recent Vanderbilt graduate, is a four-time All-American in both singles and doubles.

At the last Pan American Games, the U.S. men earned bronze in doubles.

The competitors will contend July 10-16 on the Canadian Tennis Centre’s hard courts in three categories: men’s and women’s singles, men’s and women’s doubles, and mixed doubles. In total, 48 male and 32 female Pan American athletes will be competing.

“My goal is to bring home the gold for Team USA,” said Davis.

The United States tennis team has a history of acing the Pan American Games. The U.S. currently has the highest medal count in the sport.

Kendra Hansey is a student in the Sports Media Certificate program at the University of Georgia’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication. 

Related Athletes

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Jean-Yves Aubone

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Gonzales Austin

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Dennis Novikov

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Louisa Chirico

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Lauren Davis

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Sachia Vickery