Townsend IG TC Desk

From individuals to organizations, weekend warriors to professional players, minute observations to big-picture ideas, tennis has been top of mind across the board over the past two years.

“I feel like this is the tennis boom part two,” says Trey Waltke, general manager of the Malibu Racquet Club in southern California. “Everyone is talking tennis. Everyone is playing. People are rediscovering how great tennis is.”

Tennis shouldn’t rest on its laurels; the first boom didn’t last forever. But this is as good of an opportunity to reflect on what the sport has gotten right, during a time when so much has gone wrong.

Over the next few weeks, we'll do just that, with a series of stories—30-Love—that highlights 30 things worth celebrating about the New American Tennis Boom. Look for past articles on the left side of each page.—Ed McGrogan


WATCH: Townsend joins the Tennis Channel team


When Taylor Townsend watches tennis these days, the former prodigy-turned new mom is on overdrive, synthesizing what’s in front of her for an audience of enthusiasts while absorbing all she can in anticipation of a thunderous comeback.

“I’ve been able to take myself out of being a player and thinking, ‘I would do this and this’,” she explained over the phone as the US Open unfolded, citing tactical masters like Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev. “Sometimes I’m looking at their footwork and how a player is moving, but recently I’ve been interested in patterns of play, what helps certain players win and be so good.

“It’s certain things like that where I ask myself, ‘How do they do that, and how can I implement that into my game?’ I obviously have to filter it for myself, what I do, and how I play, but it’s like you can learn something from everyone.”

Townsend has balanced dual roles of student and teacher this summer when she came aboard the Tennis Channel team to analyze the Western & Southern Open, a highlight of a maternity leave she plans to extend into early 2022. Having not played a tournament since the 2020 US Open, the 25-year-old has continued to train, but also thought about other, related interests. Many encouraged the talkative and insightful American to try commentary.

“A thought crossed my mind—and this is something I’ve been trying to apply in all aspects of my life: ‘If you don’t say anything, they won’t know,’” she said. “So, I decided to put myself out there and see what happens.”

Taking in the action from a studio desk, Townsend not only gained a new appreciation for the fast-paced world of live television, but came away from the experience that as a current—if presently on pause—player, hers was a unique perspective largely missing from the commentary space.

On her new job: “It’s crazy because there were matches on, and you could be recapping something you didn’t get to watch because they were on an outside court. You may only get a 20-second highlight clip and you need to figure out exactly what you want to say about that match without having seen it from start to finish. Once I loosened up and understood the rhythm, things got much better.”'


On her time in the pros: “No one else has played during a pandemic, so it’s a totally different experience to be playing in a bubble and taking tests every other day. It’s something unlike anything anyone has ever experienced at tournaments before, and being able to relate to that helps better translate it so the everyday viewer can get a better understanding of the players’ points of view.

“I think it just gives it a different dynamic than you may typically have, where more established commentators can only draw from their past experiences or forecast trends. It’s different than actually being in these moments and facing particular opponents on tour.”

A teenaged Townsend may have had a completely different career had someone like her been in the booth, as it was persistent criticism around her perceived fitness that nearly kept her from playing the US Open despite being the top-ranked junior in 2012. Townsend ultimately paid her own way to Flushing Meadows and won the girls’ doubles title with countrywoman Gabrielle Andrews.

“Viewers want information that they can understand, and we can show that, even as professional athletes, we go through the same struggles they do,” she says. “You look at the things that have been going on with Naomi Osaka, and I have a lot of compassion for her because I understand what that’s like, just in a different way.

“I’ve been through that media attention where it can feel very overwhelming. It’s easy to scrutinize, but depending on who you have around, you have an opportunity as a broadcaster to provide a unique perspective that a viewer may not have considered until they’re able to have it expressed to them in a different way.”

I decided to put myself out there and see what happens. Taylor Townsend


Seven years later, in the pros, Townsend made another US Open memory. With her all-court game at last clicking on a major stage, she crashed the net nearly 100 times to upset Simona Halep en route to the 2019 fourth round. It’s a level she feels she can achieve again after giving birth to son Adyn, but one she wants to achieve at her own pace.

“I wanted to give myself grace and time to where I didn’t feel like I had to rush, and thinking, ‘Oh god, I have to get back!’” she says. “I didn’t want my mind focused solely on that as opposed to enjoying being a new mother and the experiences that go along with having a baby in these early stages of his life. New stuff happens literally every day with him, and it’s mind-blowing.

“Maybe this was my opportunity to step away from the game and really regrow that passion for the sport, and that hunger to compete again. I knew, for sure, I wanted to come back because I just have so much more to give.”

A consummate student of the game, Townsend soon bids farewell to attend to Adyn and dogs Winston and Creed. In spare moments, she will continue fine-tuning the lesson to impart on the tennis world when she makes that long-awaited return.