In the stadium and sports club of Freetown, Sierra Leone, soccer is the favorite topic. But several hours after Frances Tiafoe, a son of two Sierra Leoneans emigres, beat Rafael Nadal to reach the quarterfinals of the U.S.Open, tennis nudged itself into the conversation.

''Oh, yeah, there is a lot of talk about Tiafoe right now,'' Abdulai Kamara, a sports blogger and the owner of the Hereford Sierra Leone Football Academy, said in a telephone interview from Freetown.

''We don't really follow tennis closely here, but now there is some interest. Some people are curious about Frances, and they want to know more.''

That curiosity certainly went up another notch after Tiafoe followed up his win over Nadal by beating the No 9 seed, Andrey Rublev, in straight sets on Wednesday to reach his first Grand Slam semifinal.

No American man has won the U.S. Open or any Grand Slam singles title since 2003, when Andy Roddick, who was on hand Wednesday to watch Tiafoe, lift the trophy in New York.

While the tennis community in the United States is excited about Tiafoe, who was born in Hyattsville, Md., some in Sierra Leone are proudly claiming the young tennis star as their own, too.

The gregarious and talented Tiafoe, 24, has enough magnetism and dynamic tennis skills for two nations.

The Sierraloaded publication referred to ''Sierra Leone's Tiafoe,'' in a flash update on the historic win over Nadal, and Kei Kamara, a soccer star from Sierra Leone playing for Montreal in Major League Soccer, wrote on Twitter :

''One of us,'' after Tiafoe's win, calling it a ''massive achievement.''

Many people in the tennis world also know the story of Tiafoe's early life in Maryland. But much of his tennis story is still heading north.Some of it is being written at the U.S.Open, and some of it is being written in Sierra Leone, where the legend of Frances Tiafoe is just taking hold.

The World Students Society thanks author David Waldstein.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!