U.S. Olympic tennis team official; 546th-ranked singles player goes to Rio
The U.S. Olympic tennis team of 12 players was made official Friday, and it includes the 546th-ranked men’s singles player.
The team is headlined by Venus and Serena Williams, going to their fifth and fourth Olympics, respectively. They have combined to win two Olympic singles titles and three Olympic doubles titles.
The Williams sisters and the other women’s players -- Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens in singles and Bethanie Mattek-Sands and CoCo Vandeweghe in doubles -- were confirmed by the USTA on June 30.
Made official on Friday was the men’s singles team of Jack Sock, Steve Johnson, Denis Kudla and Brian Baker. Previously confirmed were brothers Bob and Mike Bryan in doubles, the reigning Olympic champs.
Baker is the most intriguing. He is ranked No. 546 in the world, and 41st among Americans, but can use a protected ranking for Olympic consideration, as he missed all of 2014 and 2015 due to injury.
Baker first used the protected ranking this year to get into the Australian Open at No. 56, which would rank him among the top four American men (not including John Isner and Sam Querrey, who previously withdrew from Olympic consideration).
Sock, ranked No. 26, celebrated his first Olympic qualification by picking out a Team USA-themed T-shirt with an eagle across the chest on a visit to Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., this week. Sock, Isner and the Bryan brothers are facing Croatia in the Davis Cup quarterfinals just outside Portland.
“As a kid you grow up watching a lot of the Olympics -- not only tennis, but a lot of the sports,” said Sock, who rallied from two sets down to beat 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic on Friday afternoon. “Kind of a bucket list for every athlete I feel like to be able to represent your country on the biggest stage possible.”
Mixed doubles entries will be decided later, perhaps not until the Games in August.
The U.S. Olympic team is now at 524 qualified athletes. It is expected to reach at least 555 athletes by the time the team is officially named by the U.S. Olympic Committee, which is expected next week.
It’s expected that seven golfers will be named to the team in the next week, plus 12 men’s and 12 women’s rugby players. Also, kayaker Tim Hornsby could be added to the Olympic field. Replacement athletes, especially in fencing, would be added to the U.S. Olympic team if and when they compete in Rio.
Serena Williams (also doubles)
Venus Williams (also doubles)
Jack Sock (also doubles)
Steve Johnson (also doubles)
Bethanie Mattek-Sands/CoCo Vandeweghe
Bob Bryan/Mike Bryan