This summer features two of the biggest sporting events in the world as the postponed 2020 Olympics and Paralympics take place in Tokyo, Japan. The 2020 Olympic Games begin July 23 and conclude Aug. 8 while the 2020 Summer Paralympics begin Aug. 24 and conclude Sept. 5.
The U.S. will be represented by a talented crop of 18 tennis athletes in both the Olympic and Paralympic competitions, a number of whom have ties to Lake Nona and Orlando. Both the Olympic and Paralympic squads have scheduled training sessions at the USTA National Campus before they head to Tokyo.
Of the 18 selections, three are former medalists – Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Rajeev Ram and David Wagner – while 11 will be competing at the Games for the first time.
The Olympic team will consist of 11 players – five women and six men – with four singles players and two doubles teams per gender. First-time Olympians Jennifer Brady, Jessica Pegula and Alison Riske will compete in the women’s singles competition. In women’s doubles, Nicole Melichar, also a first-time Olympian, will partner with Riske. They will be joined in the women’s doubles’ draw by 2016 mixed doubles gold medalist Mattek-Sands, who will partner with Pegula. The women’s Olympic team will be led by coach Kathy Rinaldi, who also captains the U.S. Billie Jean King Cup team. (Note: Coco Gauff was originally selected to be a part of the team but was forced to withdraw from the competition following a positive COVID-19 test.)
Brady is a Lake Nona resident, and Rinaldi is based at the USTA National Campus as part of USTA Player Development.
The men’s singles team also includes four players making their Olympic debuts, with Tommy Paul, Frances Tiafoe, Tennys Sandgren and Marcos Giron all looking to climb the medal podium. Ram, the reigning mixed doubles silver medalist, will return to the Olympics for the doubles competition, this time partnering with Tiafoe. Austin Krajicek, another first-time Olympian, will be teaming with Sandgren. The men will be led by coach David Nainkin, who is also Orlando-based.
The Paralympic team will consist of seven players across the women’s, men’s and Quad events. Four-time Paralympian and eight-time Paralympic medalist Wagner will lead the U.S. Paralympic Team into Tokyo. Wagner will look to claim a Quad medal for the fifth consecutive Games, with his current career medal count including three doubles gold medals (and one silver) as well as two singles silvers and two singles bronze medals.
Wagner will be joined again at the Paralympic Games by Dana Mathewson, Emmy Kaiser and Shelby Baron in the women’s field and Bryan Barten in the Quad field, all of whom competed in Rio four years ago. Casey Ratzlaff and Conner Stroud will be making their Paralympic debuts in the men’s field, and the Paralympic team will be led by coach Jason Harnett.
Mathewson and Baron live in Orlando and train at the USTA National Campus, with Harnett based at the campus as well.