#TeamMiddleStates Taking on the Australian Open

Triple-digit temperatures continue to blast the grounds of the Australian Open, and three players with Middle States ties are hoping to stick around for more.

Pittsburgh native Alison Riske

Alison Riske (Pittsburgh), Lisa Raymond (Wayne, Pa.) and Varvara Lepchenko (Allentown, Pa.) will step on court for competition in the next two days, with Riske likely to receive plenty of air time tonight on ESPN2 and the Tennis Channel when she faces world No. 9 Angelique Kerber at 7 p.m. (11 a.m. Friday in Australia).

Riske will compete in singles and doubles, while Raymond and Lepchenko will participate in doubles only. Riske’s doubles match was canceled yesterday due to extreme heat.

World Team Tennis 2006
Lisa Raymond of Wayne, Pa.

There’s no better way to say it: Riske’s past year has been outstanding. The Pittsburgh native climbed more than 100 spots in the rankings, and now finds herself on the world tennis radar after winning two main matches during last year’s Wimbledon and advancing to the round of 16 at the US Open. She’s dropped just six games in two straight-set victories over tour veterans at this year’s Australian Open. She defeated Yanina Wickmayer — a former world No. 12 — on Wednesday evening after beating No. 22 Elena Vesnina in round one. Riske is currently ranked No. 53 but is expected to crack the top 50 when new rankings are released.

In doubles, Riske teams up with American teenage star Madison Keys against Xinyun Han (China) and Miki Miyamura (Japan) in a first-round match. She could play as early as 11 p.m. tonight (mid-afternoon Friday in Australia).

US Varvara Lepchenko returns a ball agai
Varvara Lepchenko of Allentown, Pa.

Raymond, a Middle States Hall of Fame inductee in 2010, is one of the most decorated doubles players in history. The former two-time NCAA singles champ at Florida has 10 grand slam titles to her name (six women’s doubles, four mixed doubles). She’ll take the court with Daniela Hantuchova (Slovakia) as No. 15 seeds against Mandy Minella (Luxembourg) and Chanelle Scheepers (South Africa).

Lepchenko, now out of the singles draw after a loss last night, is into the second round of doubles with teammate Raluca Olaru (Romania). The duo will face the 13th-seeded Hao-Ching Chan (Taipei) and Leizel Huber (USA).

For updates, photos and more, follow Middle States on Twitter and Facebook.

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