Four players aged 23-years-old and younger have committed to play the 2019 Fayez Sarofim & Co. U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship April 6-14 at River Oaks Country Club.
A US Clay semifinalist last year, 21-year-old Taylor Fritz will be joined by a trio of 23-year-olds in the field – Yoshihito Nishioka, former TCU standout Cameron Norrie and 2016 NCAA champion Mackenzie McDonald.
“There is a palpable buzz about the next generation of players on the ATP Tour, and we’re thrilled to be welcoming these upcoming stars to River Oaks,” said Tournament Director Bronwyn Greer. “Over the years, may players have come through Houston on their way to the top of the sport, and we are excited to see the potential of these young stars.”
Fritz beat three Americans, including a pair of seeds – No. 7 Ryan Harrison then former champion and third seed Jack Sock – in reaching the 2018 US Clay semifinals. Fritz was named the 2016 ATP Newcomer of the Year. In 2018, he played the ATP Next Gen Finals after his semifinal run in Houston. He reached his first career ATP final in 2016 at Memphis in just his third tour event. The Southern California native finished 2015 as the No. 1 ranked junior player in the world. This will be his second US Clay appearance.
Nishioka broke through in 2018 to claim his first ATP title, winning in Shenzhen as a qualifier. The native of Japan was rising in the ATP rankings in 2017 when his career hit a roadblock in March in Miami when he tore his ACL. His return season in 2018 also included one Challenger title and another final. Already this season he has reached a quarterfinal at the ATP event in Sydney. It will be his third appearance in Houston, having qualified last year after and an unsuccessful attempt in 2015.
McDonald’s 2018 season was punctuated by reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon just weeks after reaching his first career ATP quarterfinal at ‘s-Hertogenbosch. He also claimed one Challenger title in 2018 and reached the final of the Dallas Challenger. As a UCLA Bruin in 2016, he finished as the No. 1 singles and doubles player in the nation after winning both NCAA titles. He will be playing US clay for the second year in a row.
Norrie started off his 2019 with a runner-up finish in Auckland, falling in his first-ever title match to 2018 US Clay finalist Tennys Sandgren. That hot start to this year came after a 2018 season in which he reached three ATP semifinals – in Atlanta, Los Cabos and Lyon. The Brit debuted on the Tour in mid-2017 following a three-year career at Texas Christian University that culminated with him reaching the No. 1 position in the collegiate rankings. He will be making his main draw debut in Houston after playing qualifying in 2018.