December is the one month of the year that professional tennis goes on hiatus as the 2019 season comes to a close in November, and players across the world gear up for the 2020 campaign, which starts in early January in Australia.
While stadiums and arenas across the world sit empty, the adidas Performance Center at the USTA National Campus will be bustling with activity as a number of the top American professionals will be hard at work with the USTA Player Development staff. December is crunch time for the players’ off-season training regimen as they work on their fitness and fine-tune their games heading into the next season.
While the number of players training in Lake Nona rises during this time of year, the core group of Orlando residents who train at the USTA National Campus year-round will be working to build on their 2019 success.
That group is led by Madison Keys, a perennial Top-20 player on the WTA Tour, who added two more titles to her resume in 2019, including the biggest of her career at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati this summer. She ended the year ranked No. 13 in the world after reaching the Round of 16 or better in three of the year’s four Grand Slam tournaments.
She is joined by Alison Riske, who ended the season ranked a career-best world No. 18 after a breakout 2019 campaign, as well as Caroline Dolehide and Ann Li, who each reached career-high rankings in November.
Two former Top-50 players – CiCi Bellis and Mackenzie McDonald – are also training in Lake Nona to prepare for their return to the pro tour after prolonged injury absences. 20-year-old Bellis, once ranked a career-high No. 35 in the WTA Rankings, has not competed consistently since a wrist injury and multiple surgeries sidelined her starting in March 2018. McDonald, 24, broke into the ATP’s Top 50 in the spring before a hamstring injury ended his season.
The December training block will culminate with the American Tennis Showcase on Dec. 13-14, which will not only serve as a training opportunity for the players to experience a match-like atmosphere, but it will also give the Lake Nona community the chance to watch the nation’s best young players in person for free.
This year’s event has been expanded to two days with a special Skills Challenge headlining Friday’s action, in which players will compete head-to-head in a number of on-court games and contests. Saturday will feature match play, with players being divided into two teams competing in both singles and doubles.
In addition to the world-class tennis talent, the event will feature free kids’ activities, live music, specialty food and drinks, as well as an autograph session with the participating athletes.
Friday night begins at 7 p.m., while Saturday action gets underway at 5 p.m. Each day, the Fan Fest begins an hour-and-a-half before the start of the event. Saturday’s matches will be broadcast live on Tennis Channel.
For more information, including how to reserve your free tickets, please visit www.ustanationalcampus.com.