There’s something very special about the round-robin tournament that features college students at the Nick Bollettieri Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
The 23-year-old Naomi Osaka was introduced to the Nick Bollettieri Academy as a seventh grader through a scholarship she won at a local tennis tournament.
“This place was designed for me,” Osaka said in an interview, with her shiny hair and blue nail polish sparking the latest buzz in the glamorous area.
Why is it so special? Because she won.
Osaka has enjoyed an unbelievably successful senior year, culminating in the U.S. Open title in New York this past weekend.
In September alone, Osaka has achieved more than any of her fellow exchange students could imagine. She defeated two five-time Grand Slam winners in Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova in the final of the hard-court Championships of tennis in Cincinnati before taking the U.S. Open title.
“This week has been nothing less than unreal,” said Osaka’s team captain, Tim Mulherin. “Naomi’s going to be a great competitor for us because she has improved so much. She really competed with heart in the final.
“The tournament was her turning point as a young pro,” Mulherin added. “She is putting it all together. It’s going to be fun for the hard-court season.”
Osaka’s U.S. Open win also earned her a scholarship to attend T-Power Academy, a Christian-based school in Decatur, Georgia.
Tennis rankings: 205
Awards: U.S. Open Runner-Up