Alison Riske

Alison Riske was coached by Janice Irwin early in her career.

Since turning pro in 2009, Alison Riske from McMurray submitted her best performance in a Major when she advanced to the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. After upsetting the No. 1 seed, Riske battled Serena Williams before being eliminated, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.

“I am proud of what I accomplished,” she said to a worldwide television audience. “I played the best Serena.”

Riske, indeed, brought out the best in Williams. After dropping the first set, she won the second by winning four games in a row. She also took a 1-0 lead in the third before Williams knotted the set at 3.

With Williams leading, 4-3, Riske did not relent. She saved several break points and was a point from tying the match before Williams regained the upper hand.

Service proved a difference in the match as Williams recorded 19 aces to Riske’s one. Williams also took advantage of five double-faults in the final set by Riske.

Riske reached the quarterfinals by upsetting Ash Barty in the round of 16. She dispatched the No. 1 seed and defending champion, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Before that, Riske, who is ranked No. 55 in the world, defeated No. 13 seed Belinda Bencic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-4; Ivana Jorovic, 6-2, 6-7, 9-7; and Donna Venice, 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

The 29-year-old daughter of Al and Carol Riske previously had reached the third rounds of two Australian Opens, the second round of the French Open and the fourth round of the U.S. Open. She has won two Women’s Tennis Association and eight International Tennis Federation titles.

While she attended the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School, Riske played one season of high school tennis for Peters Township. She led the Indians to the PIAA team championship and captured the singles title in 2006. She also won the U.S. Tennis Association National Collegiate Clay Court Championships held in Mt. Lebanon to earn a spot in the U.S. Open qualifying draw, where she won her first match.

Though she earned a scholarship to play college tennis at Vanderbilt University, where her sister, Sarah, enjoyed an outstanding career, Riske turned pro before the 2009 U.S. Open.

Riske started playing at age 3 and was coached during her early years by Janice Irwin. The Bethel Park resident is the director and head teaching professional for the Upper St. Clair Tennis Development Program. Irwin was the 2014 United States Tennis Association Middle States Teaching Professional of the Year.

Almanac Sports Editor

An award-winning journalist, Eleanor Bailey has been employed by Observer Publishing Company since 1982. She is the sports editor at The Almanac and a contributor for the Observer-Reporter.

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