At 16-years old, American Victoria Duval is the youngest competitor in the 2012 US Open. Duval, of Haitian descent, earned a spot into the biggest tennis tournament in the Western Hemisphere by winning the USTA Girls’ 18 National Championships. Entering the tournament ranked 17, Duval defeated 5 of the top 10 seeds en route to her tournament win.
After winning the tournament, Duval was asked about who she would like to play in the 2012 US Open. “We were talking about it before the match and if I play Serena (Williams) I think I’m going to ask for her autograph after the match,” she said, a typical answer you would expect from a teen. But Duval is anything but a typical 16-year old.
Duval has maturity beyond her years. In January 2010, while she was 14, her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, a doctor in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, was among those in the city when it experienced a deadly earthquake. Though he was severely injured in the earthquake, he was rescued.
Duval, who has trained in at the Joe Etienne Tennis Academy (JOTAC) in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, and the Bollettieri Tennis is located in Bradenton, Florida, will not have the fortune (or misfortune) of playing three-time US Open winner Serena Williams. She will face another three-time US Open winner in Kim Clijsters, her first-round opponent, who enters the tournament with a 21-match winning streak after winning the 2009 and 2010 tournaments and not playing in 2011.
But for Duval, it is not just about the daunting task of defeating Clijsters, but of the invaluable experience on and off the court she will receive from competing in the tournament. And who knows, perhaps she will even get that autograph from Serena as well.