American Frances Tiafoe Once Lived in the Storage Room of a Tennis Center Where His Dad Worked As The Janitor - He's Now In The Quarterfinals of the US Open

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The DMV's very own Frances Tiafoe scored the biggest win of his life yesterday when he knocked Rafael Nadal out of the US Open. It was a near flawless performance from the American who unloaded missile forehand after missile forehand on the Spaniard until the match was his. 

After four sets, Big Foe stood tall and moved onto his first ever US Open quarterfinal, becoming the youngest American man since 2006 to accomplish the feat. 

Now I'm an easy sucker for a good rags to riches story (who isn't) especially when it's tied to sports. Tiafoe's journey to this point has been remarkable to say the least and I'd like to share it with you. 

Frances' parents immigrated from Sierra Leone in the 90s, escaping the civil war going on in their country. His father got a job on a construction crew that helped build the Junior Tennis Champions Center in Maryland. Once that was completed his dad became the janitor and was given a spare office/storage room to live in on-site so he could be there to open and close the building each day. Tiafoe and his brother Franklin would spend more than a decade living at the tennis center with their dad in that storage room on nights when their mom worked as a night nurse. 

At 4 years old they both started playing tennis religiously given where they were living. As Tiafoe began to play more and more at the center, it became obvious the talent he possessed, which began to draw eyeballs. A man named Misha Kouznetsov took the young American under his wing and started training him at the age of 8. Tiafoe went onto become one of the top junior tennis players in the country. He reflected back on this after the match yesterday. 


At age 16 he turned pro and began playing on the tour. It has since been an up and down road to this point. While cracking the top 30 in 2019, he finished ranked 59th in the world after the 2020 season concluded. Now we're seeing it all come together with his world ranking back up to 24th on the mens circuit and taking down the likes of Nadal at a grand slam. 

Tiafoe's story is incredible, coming from basically nothing and capitalizing on the luck of his dad being the janitor at a tennis center. He parlayed that opportunity with a lot of hard work and determination to become the youngest American US Open quarterfinalist in almost two decades. CBS ran a story on him years ago that gives you a deeper look into his childhood. 

You want an easy story to root for, look no further than Frances Tiafoe. He hits the piss out of the ball, is extremely talented, very like-able, and has the perfect combination of being cool, humble, and confident. 

He'll get the Russian Andrey Rublev next in the quarters. USA vs. Russia, do I really need to say more?