Francis Tiafoe one of seven U.S. juniors to advance in boys singles at Wimbledon

Francis Tiafoe literally grew up around tennis, often spending nights at a Maryland tennis center where his father worked. At only 16, he is ranked number two in the world. Could a future U.S. champion be in the making? (Lee Powell/The Washington Post)

American men may have struggled at Wimbledon last week, with none getting past the tournament’s third round.

But the country’s delegation of teenage boys in Wimbledon’s Junior Championships suggests a surge in the coming years.

Americans account for seven of the 16 boys still standing.

Riverdale Park’s Francis Tiafoe, 16, secured his spot among them with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 victory Wednesday over Korea’s Yunseong Chung.

“I think we’re all the same level,” Tiafoe said of the promising crop of young Americans. “Having a group like that pushes me. If I see them winning, obviously I want to get a win to stay there. We’re all competitive in our own little way. I think that helps a lot.”

It was Tiafoe’s fourth career match on grass. He said afterward that he felt a change in grass-court shoes, to a pair with slightly better traction, helped with his movement.

The tournament’s seventh seed, Tiafoe will face compatriot and New York native Noah Rubin, 18, , on Thursday for a spot in the quarterfinals. The two have played only once, in Tulsa in October 2012, when Tiafoe was 14. Rubin won in straight sets.

“He’s a great competitor; he moves well,” Tiafoe said of Rubin. “I have to give it all I’ve got if I’m going to win tomorrow.”

Stefan Kozlov, 16, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., who recently supplanted Tiafoe as the top-ranked American boy, advanced with a 6-0, 6-2, rout of Pedro Martinez Portero.

Also moving on: 11th seed Michael Mmoh, 16; Californian Taylor Harry Fritz, 16; Alex Rybakov, 17, of Coral Springs, Fla.; and Logan Smith, 17, of Tyler, Tex.

Later in the day, Tiafoe teamed with Mmoh to win the duo’s first-round doubles match.

Reaching the third round of the girls’ event were Americans Tornado Alicia Black, the third seed, and Michaela Gordon.

Liz Clarke currently covers the Washington Redskins for The Washington Post. She has also covered seven Olympic Games, two World Cups and written extensively about college sports, tennis and auto racing.

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