LIVINGSTON, NJ – Although not on her high school's tennis team, Livingston High School (LHS) sophomore Valencia Xu is making herself known in the tennis community after rising to No. 1 in the United States Tennis Association (USTA) Eastern’s Girls’ 16s division in 2018.
The 15 year old was recently honored for this accomplishment on opening day of the US Open in Queens, NY, where the USTA handed out plaques to the top three male and female performers in each age group. Fellow Eastern junior players Nadejda Maslova of Brooklyn, NY and Lina Mohamed of Mineola, NY, who earned the No. 2 and No. 3 rankings, respectfully, joined Xu at the event.
“It was really cool because you got to go to the US Open and it was nice to see everyone else there too,” said Xu, adding that she has gotten to know Maslova abd Mohamed through tournaments over the years. “I was sitting at the same table as Patrick McEnroe, which was also really cool.”
Xu has been playing tennis since she was seven years old, and currently practices at the Garden State Tennis Center in Edison.
“I’m always practicing and I have a lot more tournaments this year,” said Xu, who added that she also enjoys playing clarinet at LHS, but that tennis takes up most of her time. “What I like about [tennis] is that I find it fun and I like the individual part of it, but I also like how you can play with friends at the same time.”
The USTA Eastern Section is a not-for-profit community service organization whose mission is to promote and develop the growth of tennis. Xu celebrated her achievement with her family in August at the 2018 USTA Eastern Junior Awards Gala held at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Queens.
Julie Bliss Beal, senior director of competitive tennis noted over the summer that the Billie Jean King Tennis Center is where the best in American and international tennis play and compete.
“Parents and kids alike find it meaningful to celebrate these players achievements during Day One at the US Open,” she said at the time.
Among some of the other notables at the gala event were former professional tennis player Katrina Adams and former professional tennis player and Tennis Channel broadcaster Justin Gimelstob, who both served as guest speakers.
Pictured above, courtesy of USTA Eastern, is (L - R) Jenny Schnitzer, executive director and COO of USTA Eastern; Lina Mohamed of Mineola (Long Island), NY, No. 3 in Eastern Girls 16s; Valencia Xu of Livingston, No. 1 in Eastern Girls 16s; Amber Marino, President Elect of the USTA Eastern Board; Justin Gimelstob, former USTA Eastern junior player and ATP player, currently a correspondent on the Tennis Channel; and one of John Isner's coaches.