Bellis joins elite US Open company

Catherine Bellis

NEW YORK -- Few saw this coming. CiCi Bellis stunned this year's Aussie Open runner-up, Dominika Cibulkova, in three sets to reach the second round at the US Open.

Not a bad effort from someone born ... in 1999. Good heavens. At 15 years old, Bellis is the youngest American to win in Flushing since Mary Joe Fernandez, now an ESPN analyst, in 1986.

With that theme in mind, here is a look at notable US Open wins by teenagers in the past 35 years.

CiCi Bellis, 2014

The U.S. has been graced with a strong presence of young women. CiCi Bellis was not one of those players in the forefront of our conscience, though, and for good reason. She is only 15, and who wins tennis matches on the tour level at that age? A rhetorical question, of course, after Bell's performance Tuesday. She earned a spot in the US Open draw after winning the USTA Girls' 18s National Championship in San Diego. Bell also happens to be the youngest player in the Open draw by two years. Good on her.

Melanie Oudin, 2009

It's hard to believe it was a half a decade ago that Melanie Oudin reached the quarterfinals of the US Open at 17 years old. She became a marketing dream with her never-say-die attitude. Oudin beat four Russians in 2009, including someone named Maria Sharapova. Sadly, Oudin has never come close to building off that monumental moment.

Anna Kournikova, 1996

Anna Kournikova couldn't have asked for a better start to her Grand Slam career than the one she had. In 1996, just 15 years old, the Russian made the fourth round at the US Open until she ran into that pesky Steffi Graf character. Kournikova (in)famously never won a major singles title, despite her boundless talent. Though she remains one of the most popular players to ever play this game.

Jennifer Capriati, 1990

In 1990, just months after becoming the youngest French Open semifinalist in history, Jennifer Capriati made her US Open debut and reached the fourth round. Oh, and she was just 14 years old. She navigated her way all the way to the fourth round until Graf stopped her. Though Capriati never won the Open, she did snare three major titles and, for good measure, raked in some serious endorsement coin as well.

Mary Joe Fernandez, 1985

Mary Joe Fernandez could have been in middle school at the time, but she chose to take her talents to the tennis court, which, as it turns out, wasn't a horrible idea. In 1985, she was busy winning a match at the US Open at 14 years old. The next season she won two matches in Flushing. Fernandez eventually reached the semis a the Open in 1992 at the veteran dotage of 21.

Tracy Austin, 1979

Move over, Chris Evert. That was the case in 1979 when, at 16 years, 9 months, Tracy Austin, beat the defending four-time champ to win the US Open. Two years later, Austin would win her second title, but this time in far more dramatic fashion. Austin lost the first set to Martina Navratilova but won the next two in tiebreakers, thanks in large part to her pristine, penetrating ground game.

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