The two big stories at this year's French Open are the coming out party of Jelena Ostapenko and the total domination of the men's field by Rafa Nadal.
The 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko did more than just fill a void at the top level of women's tennis. She played with the heart of a champion and the soul of a natural born gambler to win the first of what could be many Grand Slams. It's amazing to realize that Ostapenko hit 54 winners, while making 54 errors in her thrilling final round comeback victory against Simona Halep. Sometimes timing is everything, and Ostapenko hit a winner with reckless abandon just about every time she needed one.
Rafael Nadal, in winning his astounding 10th French Open title and 15th Grand Slam title overall, seemed to take little risk in crushing Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-3, 6-1. Nadal hits so hard, so heavy and so high that he penetrated the court even against Wawrinka, one of the biggest hitters, with tremendous margins of error.
Rafa now sits in sole possession of second place on the men's all-time Grand Slam list with 15, one ahead of Pete Sampras at 14 and three behind Roger Federer at 18. Things could get very interesting in a hurry if Rafa can maintain this high level of play.
Steven Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 New York State high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.