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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Thursday May 21, 2020

 
Amanda Anisimova

Four promising talents will shake the rust off this weekend in Florida at the UTR Pro Series.

Photo Source: AP

This weekend’s UTR Pro Series features four top pros and another chance for tennis to take a step—albeit a cautious one—towards normalcy.



Amanda Anisimova, Alison Riske, Danielle Collins and Ajla Tomljanovic will take part in the event, which will take place over three days this weekend in Florida and will be aired on Tennis Channel.

Like the men’s event a few weeks ago, which was won by American Reilly Opelka, the event will be played without spectators and with many safety protocols put in place.

While it won’t feel like what we’re accustomed to--qualifications were set to be underway at Roland Garros this weekend—during a normal tennis season, the UTR Pro series will give us a chance to get updated on the games of these four talented players and allow the sport to gain more intel about about to pull off live tennis during a full blown pandemic. Each bit of information garnered, from how to place cameras or manage post-match interviews—even handshakes and the gathering of balls—will provide tournament operators with valuable intel into how they too might run an event during the time of Coronavirus if and when their time comes.

“I think it’s really exciting. Just to have something that makes us feel normal again,” Riske said in a press conference hosted by Tennis Channel’s Steve Weissman. “To compete, to be on the tennis court.”

Riske, at 19, is the only Top 20 player in the competition, but Anisimova (28) is not far behind her. Collins (51) and Tomljanovic (56) round out this very intriguing lineup. Both are solid pros and potential Top 20 talents as well.


Anisimova is the youngest in the field at 18, and also the player considered with the greatest upside. She open a lot of eye when she reached the Roland Garros semifinals last spring before her season was derailed by the sudden passing of her coach and father Kontstantin last August. Surely, it has been difficult for the American to manage emotionally during this difficult time, especially with the attention that has come to her as a result of her fine play in Paris and at other times in 2019.

Perhaps the layoff has done her some good mentally.

“I think this time has given us a lot of free time to reflect on our lives,” said the 18-year-old. “Just kind of see what we’re grateful for, just kind of take a step back. Obviously it’s really difficult but you can also look at it in a positive way and that’s what I’m trying to do during this time.”

Tomljanovic has a booming game and promises be a late bloomer on tour. She has just turned 27 and thus far her ranking has topped out at 39. She’s trained in Florida at the Evert Academy for quite some time, and is eager to play some meaningful tennis again.

“I’m so excited to be a part of this just because I think it’s the closest thing we can get to competing nowadays,” said Tomljanovic. “I think we’ve all missed what we’ve known for all our lives, really. With all the safety protocols I feel really comfortable going in. Just that feeling of again playing points and having match situations—it’s exciting.”

The action kicks off on Friday at 12 noon Eastern Standard Time, with Anisimova doing the honors:


 

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