Playing Graf in the U.S. Open at 16 Probably Would Be a Bit Tu Much
Meilen Tu of Northridge, who recently won her first national championship in junior tennis, has been granted a wild-card spot in the women’s division in next week’s U.S. Open.
The United States Tennis Assn. on Monday selected Tu, 16, to its 128-player draw in the Grand Slam event that opens Monday at Flushing Meadows, N.Y. Tu’s only concern is that she might face Steffi Graf, the No. 1 player in the world. Seedings will be made later this week.
“I’d rather not have to play somebody like that, because I lack experience,” Tu said. “But whoever I do play, I’m going to give them all I got. I’ve never played in that big of an event. I might get nervous. But I’ve also been preparing for this event, mentally.”
The former Granada Hills High student, who is now in a home-study program, earned the U.S. Open berth after winning the USTA Girls’ 18-and-under national championship in San Jose on Aug. 13. She defeated Lilia Osterloh of Winchester, Ohio, 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, in the final. Tu lost in the quarterfinals of that event in 1993.
But her game has reached a new level. Touring with the USTA Junior National team, Tu has won two international tournaments this year: the Banana Bowl on clay in Sao Paulo, Brazil in March and the Surbiton (England) International Junior Championship on grass in July.
This is not Tu’s first appearance in a professional tournament. She scored a first-round victory in February in the $25,000 Coral Gables (Fla.) Challenge Tournament.
Tu’s second-round loss came against then 138th-ranked Audra Keller of Memphis, Tenn. Keller also was granted a wild-card berth.
Two years ago, Tu played the Junior U.S. Open, an international juniors event that coincides with the pro tournament.
She lost in the first round in both singles and doubles.
Still, she is undaunted about returning to Flushing Meadows as an amateur playing in a Grand Slam event.
“I’ve really earned it, I think,” she said. “I’ve worked really hard.”