Madison Keys is just 18 but she has already been earmarked for the very top by some of the WTA's biggest names.
WTA Staff

For most 18-year-olds in America, the first week of April is spent gearing up for graduation or winding down after spring break. Madison Keys, however, is not your average 18-year-old.

Keys spent last week at one of tennis' most storied venues, enhancing her reputation as one of the WTA's hottest young commodities with a narrow defeat to seven-time major champion Venus Williams.

Unsurprisingly, given the manner in which she has dealt with her first full season on tour, Keys was remarkably unflustered by it all.

"After the match, my friend texted me, she's like, 'hey, what are you doing?' I'm like, 'I don't know, just played Venus Williams. You know, nothing much,'" Keys said after her 64 64 loss to Williams in Charleston.

And despite her credible showing, Keys' post-match press conference was tinged with regret - the brunt of her disappointment saved for rain that had descended on Daniel Island 24 hours earlier.

The weather forced Keys and Williams to come out for their quarterfinal just hours after finishing off their third round opponents. "It's tough. It would have been nice to have a day and not an hour and a half to recover," Keys said. "I mean, we all had to deal with that, though, so it's just part of it.

"It was bittersweet to make the quarterfinals and then lose like two hours later. But, I'm still going to be taking a lot of good things from this tournament as well."

One of those positives was a new career-high ranking of No.62.

Having started the year barely inside the Top 150, Keys already has 15 wins to her name and is clearly headed in one direction. Indeed, her big game and physique to match - she stands at an athletic 5' 10'' - has already seen her earmarked as one to watch by several of her more seasoned opponents.

"At this point, she's learning the ropes and playing the matches and needs more experience against the top players," Williams said. "I've seen her play a few times, and now I've played her I know that she's very talented. It's just a matter of time before she can execute regularly and get to that next level."

Li Na, who was pushed to three sets by Keys in Brisbane earlier this year was similarly impressed.

"She has a huge, huge serve and is already a very good player. If she plays at a level like she did against me every match she should be soon Top 20 or even Top 15 or Top 10," Li said.

However, despite these glowing reviews, Keys is keeping her feet on the ground, concentrating on the basics and enjoying the moment.

"I'm not really focused on results. I try not to be, anyway," she added. "I think when I start thinking about results, I stop playing the right way because I start getting too nervous. So I'm just really trying to stick to the game plan that I go out there with, staying calm, and really just when I come off the court being happy with how I played, win or lose.

"I'm just excited, looking forward to traveling, getting to go to all these places. I think when you're younger and you're watching people play on TV, you always say that you want to be at the French Open. You want to be playing Grand Slams.

"But then actually being there doing it, it kind of blows you away thinking, wow, I actually used to think maybe I could do that one day, and now I'm actually doing it."