COLLEGE PARK, Md. (DC News Now) — As Frances Tiafoe advanced to his first ever Grand Slam semifinal at the U.S. Open in New York City, New York, the next generation of tennis players jumped up in celebration at the Junior Tennis Champions Center (JTCC) in College Park, Maryland.

“If somebody can come from around here where I live locally to just like go out to be great and become a pro and get to the U.S. [Open] semifinals, that’s amazing,”m 14-year-old Kai Wells of Bethesda, Maryland, who trains at JTCC said. “That inspires me a lot to be able to accomplish that goal as well.”

Tiafoe, a native of Hyattsville, Maryland, trained at JTCC, where his father, who moved to America from Sierra Leone, was a member of the construction crew that built the center. Tiafoe’s father also worked at the center as a custodian once it was built.

“Frances always gives the smiles to the kids. Every time he comes here, it’s like the child sees candy. They always smile every time they see Frances, they go to him. He always shakes everyone’s hand,” JTCC Senior Director of Player Development Oliver Akli, who trained Tiafoe when he was growing up, said. “To see Frances today play at that high level, he always inspires every kid that comes here, he always wants to give back to the community.”

JTCC’s future stars enjoyed watching Tiafoe shine, and are hoping he has two more wins in him at the U.S. Open.

“To actually have an example that you can look up to that went through everything you did, it just makes the dream that you’ve had for so long, it makes it seem like it’s actually attainable. So inspirational, today’s match was amazing.”

Tiafoe will face either No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz or No. 11 Jannik Sinner in the U.S. Open semifinal on Friday.

“He’s an unbelievable kid and I’m so proud of what he’s doing right now,” Akli told DC News Now. “Let’s see what the future brings.”