At the Net: Rising Star: CiCi Bellis

Philadelphia, PA (SportsNetwork.com) - If you really paid attention to the sport of tennis you might notice that there are plenty of promising young Americans coming up on the women's side, i.e. teenager CiCi Bellis.

Earlier this month, the 15-year-old San Francisco native finished 2014 as the year-end No. 1 junior, becoming the second American girl in three years to do so. Taylor Townsend turned the trick in 2012 when she became the first American girl in three decades to hold that distinction.

Catherine Cartan Bellis clinched that year-end No. 1 junior ranking with a quarterfinal victory at the Orange Bowl Junior Championships a couple weeks ago.

Her prestigious junior tiles include the Easter Bowl Championships, USTA International Spring Championships, and the Coffee Bowl.

Who knew?

You might also remember that Bellis was a brief sensation at this year's U.S. Open, where she shocked then-13th-ranked Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in three sets in the opening round in New York to become the youngest player to win a match at that Grand Slam tournament since Russian beauty Anna Kournikova in 1996. (But look what happened to her ... Kournikova, that is.) It also marked Bellis' first-ever main-draw match at the WTA level.

CiCi was also the youngest American to win a match at the U.S. Open since Mary Joe Fernandez back in 1986, the youngest woman in the main draw of a Grand Slam since Alize Cornet at the 2005 French Open, and youngest in the main draw at the U.S. Open in 10 years.

Unfortunately, Bellis lost to capable Kazakhstani Zarina Diyas in the second round there in Flushing.

Bellis was eligible to take home at least $60,000 for winning her first-round match in New York, but she didn't take the money in order to keep her amateur status just in case she wants to play some collegiate tennis.

The gritty Bellis earned her spot in the U.S. Open main draw by capturing the USTA Girls' 18s National Championship, becoming the youngest to do that since Lindsay Davenport (now a Hall-of-Famer) in 1991. That's 23 years!

Did You Know?: Prior to the U.S. Open, Bellis finished as a junior girls' doubles runner-up at the French Open back in June.

Bellis, who's been swingin' the racquet since age 3, is currently ranked 255th in the world. But that's gonna change.

She models her game style and fighting spirit after four-time major champion/ former world No. 1 Kim Clijsters. I'd say that's a pretty good player to emulate.

It's too early to tell how far Bellis is going to climb, but it feels like there's a star in the making here.