Since last year, a few bright young athletes have started their climb up the ladder of sports fame. Their careers are starting off on the right foot and a few in particular have gained immense popularity already. Almost every sport features a rising star and each is predicted to be an outstanding performer in their field. 2012 should prove to be an exciting year for these rookies.
Born in Montenegro but raised in Canada, Milos Raonic is the up-and-coming tennis star who qualified for his first grand slam event in 2010 at the U.S. Open. He jumped an astonishing 115 ranks in a single month after reaching the fourth round of the Australian Open (the first time in 10 years a Canadian player reached the third round of a singles Grand Slam. In 2011, he also won his first SAP Open, which further contributed to his No. 37 ranking.
Raonic prefers to play on hard courts and is best known for his powerful and accurate serve, though he plays a fairly all-court game. Currently, Raonic is the highest-ranked Canadian male singles player in ATP Rankings history. Late in 2011, Raonic underwent hip surgery but managed to compete in the U.S. Open and the Stockholm Open to wrap up the year. In his most recent tournament, he played a tough match against Roger Federer but lost by a point. Raonic is slated to be a tough competitor as he gains experience this year. The 21-year-old has plenty of time to develop his career as a professional tennis player and it would come as no surprise if his name graces the top of multiple tournament leader boards in the near future.
In baseball, the world welcomes 19-year-old Bryce Harper. He hit his first career home run just days ago, making him the youngest MLB player to hit a homer since 1998. The play resulted in a 4-1 lead for the Washington Nationals that day. For the second time in as many days, Harper hit another home run against the Padres and although the Nationals ended up losing 1-6, the run underscored the potential Harper shows as the next baseball superstar. Not only did Harper break the record for youngest homer since ’98, but he also clocked the second-fastest home run time of the season thus far, USA Today reports. Apparently his anger might pose a minor problem, though, as evidenced by the 10 stitches he received for a busted eye when he slammed his bat out of sheer frustration in the dugout wall and it bounced back to hit him in the face.
The New York Jets seem very pleased with the addition of quarterback Tim Tebow. Last season, the iconic football player won the hearts of fans across the nation with his prayerful pose on field and surprising skill. ESPN stated that quarterbacks coach Matt Cavanaugh thought Tebow’s mechanics were not only good on a consistent basis but are improving every day. According to Cavanaugh, Tebow seems eager to work hard and constantly better himself on the field. There is rising controversy between Mark Sanchez and Tim Tebow spurred on by the coach’s high praise for the new Jets member. The question of who will be chosen as starting quarterback hangs in the air. Tebow is doing a fantastic job preparing during the offseason and his homework is paying off with the coach. Sanchez may need to step up his game if he wants to protect his potential slot as starting QB; by all accounts, 24-year-old Tebow is starting to outshine him.
Darrell Wallace Jr.
Darrell Wallace Jr. will make his NASCAR national level debut soon at the Iowa Speedway near Newton. Wallace took rookie of the year during the K&N Pro Series East in 2010, becoming the youngest African American winner of a NASCAR race. The Examiner writes that he will be well-prepared for his debut race as he is also competing in the K&N Series the same weekend. Although Wallace expressed great excitement in looking towards his debut, he recognizes the need to not be overambitious and play things somewhat safe. At 18 years old, Wallace knows he has already reached a milestone in the world of NASCAR being so talented at such an early age and reaching the status of full-time NASCAR competitor. He’s had quite a support group to help him reach this point in his career including individuals such as Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.
Time will tell if these athletes will be able to top charts and break even more records, but they are most certainly off to great starts. High praise from coaches, impressive scores early in the game, and youthful energy — they are the rising stars in the sports world and they may reach the moon this year.