Former Texas tennis star Peyton Stearns in the U.S. Open round of 16

Michael J. Lewis

NEW YORK — When Peyton Stearns was 5 years old, she was in a neighbor’s backyard and smacked a Wiffle Ball clear over the fence.

The neighbor’s mom suggested to Peyton and her mother, Denise, that the powerful tyke should play softball.

“Nah,” Denise and Peyton replied. “What else you got?”

Tennis was a sport Peyton’s father, Mike Stearns, had played in college, so courts became Peyton’s place.

Sixteen years later, that choice looks wiser and wiser. The former Texas star has been playing the best tennis of her life in 2023, and over the past week at the U.S. Open has enjoyed her best Grand Slam so far. She demolished Britain’s Katie Boulter on Saturday night, taking the 6-4, 6-3 victory to reach the round of 16 of a major for the first time.

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