Two South Florida tennis stars took their talents to Paris and participated in Thursday’s semifinals of the French Open.
Applause filled the room at the Evert Academy in Boca Raton, where tennis champion hopefuls watched current stars take the big stage.
Kids of all ages cheered on Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens as they competed in the French Open on NBC 6. Both players have strong ties to South Florida, as they both trained at the Evert Academy many years ago.
“You come from an academy and a couple years later, you’re playing against each other in front of so many people in a grand slam, it’s really cool,” said Gabriella Singer of the Evert Academy.
Stephens is from Plantation and played there for about a year. Keys honed her skills at Evert for almost seven years, learning from people like Coach Jacopo Tezza, who remembers her fondly.
“Makes me proud of the work the Evert Academy and the team has done with Maddie. She’s a great kid and we’re really proud of the journey she’s been on for five years on the tour,” said Tezza.
In fact, academy owners John and Chrissie Evert went to Paris to watch Thursday’s match.
Meanwhile back at home, budding talent ooh’ed and ahh’ed at every serve.
“It was outstanding to think that they came here right where we’re standing. It’s amazing and awesome,” said Seth Cook.
“It makes me feel more confident knowing since I’m here, they’ve produced girls like that who can hit that good, makes me feel better,” said Leighton Farrar.
In the end, Sloane Stephens won the match and will move on.