Move over, Wolf pack. Cincinnati has a new first family of tennis.
The Wolfs – from Marty and Jeff back in the day to current Cincinnati Country Day stars Danielle and J.J. – are the family most Greater Cincinnatians think of when talking about the local tennis scene.
As dominant as they've been locally, the Wolfs haven't yet made the kind of national impact enjoyed by the McNallys of Madeira. Lynn Nabors-McNally played on the pro tour after graduating from Northwestern University and before becoming a busy local coach.
Her and John McNally Sr.'s two children might be on their way to even greater heights. John McNally Jr. won't turn 16 until October, but he's the U.S. Tennis Association's top-ranked player in the Boys 16 (and under) category – his second No. 1 ranking. He previously topped the Boys 14 rankings
His sister, 12-year-old Caty, is ranked second by the USTA in the Girls 14 age group after previously being No. 1 in the Girls 12.
"There are so many people in the United States that being able to say you're the best in the country is pretty cool," said John Jr., a Madeira High School sophomore.
Their success has created a buzz, from YouTube videos – including one of John helping Roger Federer warm up before Federer's Western & Southern Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray in August – to making Sports Illustrated's "Faces in the Crowd" page.
"That's a terrible picture," said Caty, a Madeira Middle School seventh-grade student, visibly grimacing after glancing at her magazine head shot.
They were picked by Sports Illustrated after completing a rare sweep this summer. John dropped just one set in seven matches while winning the USTA Boys 16 National Hardcourt Championship singles title in Kalamazoo, Michigan. He and Gianni Ross of Burr Ridge, Ill., captured the doubles title.
Meanwhile, Caty was winning all seven of her matches in straight sets while capturing the Girls 14 version of the championship in Peachtree City, Ga. She completed the sweep by teaming with Nicole Conrad of Boca Raton, Fla., to win the doubles crown.
John Sr., a financial adviser with a New York life insurance company, played basketball and ran track and cross country at Moeller. John Jr. and Caty – who play out of The Club at Harper's Point, where Lynn is on the pro staff – also have played multiple sports. John Jr. played baseball and basketball and Caty played basketball, but both decided to give the other sports up in favor of focusing on tennis.
Their decisions have consequences, most related to the travel that has them out of town on many weekends.
"It's hard," said the 5-foot-8 Caty, a right-hander who is scheduled to next play in a national tournament in Maryland in a couple of weeks. "Sometimes, you just want to hang out with your friends. I like to have sleepovers sometimes. I like to hang out."
The lifestyle also has benefits beyond hitting with Federer and seeing new places, pointed out John Jr., who suffered a first-round, late-August, straight-set loss to an 18-year-old German at the U.S. Open junior tournament in New York.
"It does take away from your average high school weekend, but you make friends along the way," said the 5-foot-11 right-hander, who had to skip a weekend trip to Mexico because of an elbow problem. "Gianni is like a brother to me."
Caty and John Jr. both are accomplished enough to have picked up sponsorship deals. Wilson provides racquets for both, while Nike outfits John with Caty going with Adidas, but neither of them have given much thought to the next steps. Turn pro? College first? Who knows? There's still time for those decisions.
"We're still pretty young," John reminded.
With their list of accomplishments, that's easy to forget.