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Peters Township's Riske up for the challenge

| Sunday, June 19, 2011

When Alison Riske begins play at Wimbledon this week, she will face Vera Zvonareva — the tournament's No. 2 seed and the No. 3 player in the world.

Riske, a Peters Township native ranked No. 118, lost to No. 15 seed Yanina Wickmayer in her first appearance at Wimbledon last year. With another year of experience, the 20-year-old welcomes the challenge of facing Zvonareva.

"I love hearing that kind of news because those are the moments you train for," she said. "To be up against the top people in the world (is) a pretty rare and special moment."

In the semifinals of the 2010 Aegon Classic in Birmingham, England, Riske battled second-seeded Maria Sharapova but ultimately lost, 6-2, 4-6, 6-1.

"It showed me that I can compete against the best in the world when I compete to my ability," Riske said.

Earlier this month, she advanced to the quarterfinals of the Aegon Classic before losing to Daniela Hantuchova, 6-2, 6-4. She said she and her older sister, Sarah, who played tennis at Vanderbilt as well as professionally and has traveled with Alison as a coach for years, are enjoying their time in England.

"I love playing on grass, and I look forward to this part of the season," Riske said.

Riske qualified for her first Australian Open in January; she fell to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round. At 20, she is beginning to establish herself as a regular on the major tournament circuit.

"The fact that I'm only 20 is great because I have so many years ahead of me to compete," she said. "I have as good a chance in Wimbledon now as I will when I'm 30. Venus (Williams) is (31) and still rocking the tennis world."

Alison Riske at a glance

Alison Riske of Peters Township will make her third appearance in a Grand Slam tournament this week at Wimbledon, opening against No. 2 seed Vera Zvonareva. Highlights from her professional career:

— Riske is 0-2 in Grand Slams, falling to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round of the Australian Open this year and to Yanina Wickmayer in the opener at Wimbledon in 2010.

— Last year, she earned a spot in the Wimbledon draw as a qualifier. This year, she reached the semifinals of the Aegon Classic to secure a spot.

— Currently No. 118 in the world, she has been ranked as high as 104th. Her career singles record is 110-75.

Career prize money won on the WTA Tour: $171,598.

Source: WTA.com

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