Getting to Know Rising Stars Keys, Davis and Kovinic

Madison Keys, Lauren Davis and Danka Kovinic have three things in common: They’re all rising stars on the WTA, they’re all quarterfinalists at the Volvo Car Open and they all are under the age of 22. 

The trio is also part of a new crop of challengers that have made their names known to Charleston tennis fans this week.

MORE: Previewing Friday’s Play | Match Schedule | Draws | Tickets 

Keys, the No. 7 seed, is the most recognizable of the crop: She’s the hard-hitting American who in January made a surprise run to the Australian Open semifinals. She also is coached by former world No. 1 Lindsay Davenport.

But what’s she like off the court? The oft-smiling Illinois native is a knock-out baker, too.

“My go-to dessert is a chocolate chip cheesecake Oreo cookie,” she says.

Sounds delicious, right?

Keys is also the oldest of three sisters and says sarcasm is a big part of her personality. She started playing tennis as a young girl when she saw Venus Williams and liked her dress. Now she’s a rising star that could be inspiring plenty of small kids herself. 

Davis, another American, hails from Ohio and notched the second top 10 win of her career earlier in the week when she upset top seed Genie Bouchard in the second round.

She also happens to be a fan of baking, often tweeting about her favorite recipes, including pound cake, pancakes and something called Fluffernutter Bars.

At the USTA training center in Florida, Keys and Davis for a long time shared a coach – Juan Todero, who still works with Davis. 

“I love this tournament,” Davis told reporters Thursday. “This is an amazing tournament. I feel really comfortable on the clay. I feel like I’m sliding well and that my game really suits it well, so yeah, I’m just really enjoying myself.”

Kovinic is enjoying herself, as well, having arrived in Charleston with a skip in her step and plenty of charisma. The 20 year old from tiny Montenegro is into her first WTA quarterfinal at a Premier-level event and calls Jelena Jankovic (whom she didn’t have to face on Thursday after JJ withdrew due to injury) her “idol.”

Small but strong, Kovinic said her serve has always been powerful and she calls clay her favorite surface. What superhero would she be if she could? “Catwoman,” she says. She’ll have to have cat-like reflexes against Andrea Petkovic on Friday.