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Central Pennsylvania native cruises into U.S. Open women's singles semifinals

STEVE HEISER
717-505-5446/@ydsports
Jennifer Brady, of the United States, reacts after defeating Yulia Putintseva, of Kazakhstan, during the quarterfinals of the US Open tennis championships, Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, in New York. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)
  • Jennifer Brady cruised into the U.S. Open women's singles semifinals on Tuesday.
  • Brady, who grew up in central Pennsylvania, beat Yulia Putintseva, 6-3, 6-2 in the quarterfinals.
  • Brady’s semifinal foe will be Naomi Osaka or Shelby Rogers.

NEW YORK — Central Pennsylvania tennis fans will have a serious rooting interest on Thursday night in the U.S. Open women's singles semifinals.

A player with regional roots will be competing for a spot in the championship match.

Jennifer Brady cruised into the U.S. Open semifinals with a 6-3, 6-2 dismantling of Yulia Putintseva on Tuesday afternoon.

This is all uncharted territory for 25-year-old Brady, who came into the U.S. Open seeded No. 28. Putintseva was seeded No. 23.

The 5-foot, 10-inch Brady, who was born in Harrisburg, has yet to drop a set at the Open and has lost only 24 games in her five matches. She is in her first semifinal in 13 Grand Slam appearances and she is coming off her first Women's Tennis Association title when she took the Top Seed Open in Lexington, Kentucky, in August.

Brady, who is now based in Florida, dominated from the baseline on Tuesday in her first major quarterfinal. She took leads of 4-0 in the first set and 2-0 in the second against Putintseva, who won their two previous meetings.

Brady said the fast start helped her calm down.

“I came out with nerves. I think she did, too,” Brady said. “I just tried to pretend it was a first-round match, and I was happy with the way I started. Then I was able to keep the momentum and build off of that.”

Brady’s opponent Thursday will be winner of Tuesday night’s match between two-time major champion Naomi Osaka and Shelby Rogers, who is ranked 93rd.

Brady is seeded in a major for the first time. She trained as a youngster at the Evert Tennis Academy in Florida and played for the UCLA Bruins on their 2014 NCAA championship team.

“She has come into her own right now,” said six-time U.S. Open champion Chris Evert, an ESPN commentator. “She has matured. Some players mature later on; some mature very, very young. This is her time right now.”

Brady has plenty of weapons, with powerful groundstrokes off both sides and a serve to match. She hit 22 winners to seven for Putintseva, and said she won by keeping rallies shorter than in their previous meetings.

“The last couple of times I played her, I got caught in playing her game,” Brady said. “I don’t think I’m better at her at running, so I definitely was a lot more aggressive today.”

Area roots: Brady grew up in the Cumberland Valley School District until she was about 9, when her family moved to Florida. Her family ties in the central Pennsylvania region still run deep. Her father, Pat, graduated from Delone Catholic High School in McSherrystown, Adams County, where he was a standout football player and later an NCAA Division II All-America linebacker at East Stroudsburg University.

Two of her cousins were also standout athletes at Delone. Nick Brady excelled in basketball for the Squires and later for York College. Jason Brady was a star football lineman at Delone who later excelled for Shippensburg University.

Jennifer Brady still has relatives in the Hanover-Adams area.

Reach Steve Heiser at sheiser@yorkdispatch.com. The Associated Press contributed to this report.