Two Local "Teen Sensations" Celebrated in Sports Illustrated
Madison Keys, 14, of Boca Raton

Sports Illustrated has an interesting piece this week on 14 American teenagers who have "already found their places in the sun" but have promise to become the next generation of superstar athletes.

Two of those teens are 14-year-olds from South Florida:

Tennis phenom Madison Keys, from Boca Raton, beat Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in straight sets at the MPS Group Championships in April to become the seventh-youngest player to win a main-draw match in WTA history.

Alexis Thompson, a golfing prodigy from Coral Springs, was only 12 when she became the youngest golfer to qualify for the U.S. Women's Open in 2007. She's also qualified in both subsequent years. In April, she finished 21st at the Kraft Nabisco Championship (a woman's major event).
Alexis Thompson, 14, of Coral Springs

SI compared Keys to Venus Williams. "We're built similar," she told the magazine, adding that she's always idolized Venus.

"We both have big serves, and we both like our forehands. I didn't really plan to [model my game after Venus]; it just kind of happened."

The magazine compares Thompson to Cristie Kerr, who won the 2007 U.S. Women's Open.

"Even in practice, if she hits a bad shot, she can't believe it," her swing coach, Jim McLean, told SI. "The intensity she brings whenever she's hitting balls in practice or in a tournament stands out."

The article predicts both girls will almost certainly turn pro in their respective sports when they turn 18.

When asked which of the four tennis grand slam events she'd most like to win, Keys, who favors clay, is quoted saying: "Any of the above."

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Michael J. Mooney