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Chicagoans Rooting For Local Tennis Phenom At French Open

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Taylor Townsend of the United States returns a shot during her women's singles match against Vania King of the United States on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 26, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

Taylor Townsend of the United States returns a shot during her women’s singles match against Vania King of the United States on day two of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 26, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthias Hangst/Getty Images)

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(CBS) – The 18-year-old from Chicago’s Englewood neighborhood has shocked the tennis world. She beat the top French seed and advances to the third round in the French Open.

Taylor Townsend has dazzled fans, despite nasty whispers that she’s really too heavy to win.

At the XS Tennis Club in Kenwood, the youngsters who are being trained there — on the same courts where Townsend has trained and practiced — are her biggest fans.

So is athletic director Aaron Mabra.

“Taylor’s taken everything with a grain of salt, and I think she rose to the occasion,” Mabra says.

Because of Townsend, 16-year-old tennis student Symone Flynn now dreams of things she never before thought possible.

“I’m very inspired because not many African-American females can be an amazing player,” Flynn says. “I want to be that.”

In Friday’s third round of the French Open, that amazing Chicago teenager will face Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who is ranked 15th in the world.

Townsend is confident that “the sky’s the limit.” Her young fans agree.

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