5 Minutes With… Alison Riske

by Nicholas McCarvel

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American Alison Riske doubled the number of players representing the red, white and blue in the New Haven Open at Yale on Sunday when she joined Sloane Stephens in the main draw after winning three matches in qualifying. The 23-year-old Pittsburgh native is coming off an impressive Wimbledon run, where she went to the third round. We caught up with Riske to talk about food, roadtrips and thrift – yes, thrift! – shopping.

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New Haven Open blog: First off, congrats on your run at Wimbledon. You made the third round there! Tell us a little bit about that experience.
Alison Riske: I feel like every time I go to Wimbledon it’s pretty magical; it doesn’t matter if you’re in qualies or the main draw. Being there is so awesome and it was a great couple of weeks for me. I loved having strawberries and cream every day and you feel really special every time you walk on the grounds there.

NHO: The week before you had made a monster run to the Birmingham semifinals, including a win over Sabine Lisicki. Did watching her make the Wimbledon final motivate you even more?
Riske: I was like, ‘You weren’t supposed to do that’ [laughing]. No, it really gives me a lot of confidence and it goes to show you that you are really there and it just shows you that it’s just a few things that separates you from the best.

NHO: We see from your Twitter feed that you like to, er… feed on delicious food! What’s your dream meal if you could build one?
Riske: Well, I love Europe because I feel like you can get the best risotto anywhere. Risotto is my number one favorite food. If I had any meal, as long as there was risotto involved, I would be happy. I love any kind of dessert, but I’m big on the fro-yo fad and if it’s coconut that’s even better. I love lemon tarts, I could eat those all day. And licorice and anything gummy, I absolutely love. I have been buying a little pack of licorice every night in the vending machine here [laughing]. Last night, it gave me two and I thought, ‘Wow, it’s going to be a really good day tomorrow.’ I’ll probably have to get more tonight.

NHO: Just call it ‘good luck licorice!’ That’s hilarious. But what about more substantial meals, have you found favorites in New Haven?
Riske: I’ve actually gone to the same place every night, Sahara Mediterranean. They give you so much food and it’s a great price and I can just take it back to my room and chill. I don’t really do any going out. I very much like to be by myself and getting take out and eating in my room [laughing]. Honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Maybe if my coach or someone from my family is with me I would go out, but I just love to hang out and relax alone.

NHO: So if you’re relaxing alone a lot in your hotel room, I’m guessing you’re pretty big into music.
Riske: Yes, definitely! I love music. Someone on Twitter introduced me to Sara Barielles’ “Brave” and I was like ‘Oh my gosh, I don’t know who you are, but this is amazing!’ It’s about speaking up… I’m obsessing over Katy Perry’s “Roar” right now, too. I love both of those songs. I love country, too. Florida Georgia Line is one of my favorite bands. Those are my big ones right now.

NHO: We heard that there was a special occurrence that allowed plenty of music-listening before you got here. Tell us about that.
Riske: Yes! I took a roadtrip here! I had no idea there were so many tolls to get here, [laughing] and I had to go through some of them without paying. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I think my parents won’t be happy when they get that bill. Oops! But I love roadtrips. I was thinking of driving but I thought, ‘This is my chance to do a roadtrip’ because it’s only five hours from Annapolis, where I was coming from, to New Haven. I would drive to every single tournament if I could. I really just love roadtrips. Driving in the car for 20 hours? Yes, please.

NHO: You have a different shopping regiment in the fact that you are big into thrift stores. Macklemore would be proud, right?
Riske: OK, this is my strategy: You go to the nice part of town and find a thrift shop near by and they have such good stuff! I was in Norcross, Va., and I found this Goodwill and it had the most amazing stuff. I was in thrift store heaven, honestly. I get more of a rush doing that than going to a mall and getting something that everyone else can find. I love it. I’m not buying raggedy hand-me-downs, these are great clothes!

NHO: We’re definitely going to have to try out that strategy. OK, so finally, tell us about getting a U.S. Open wild card. That’s awesome!
Riske: I’m definitely so excited. I really appreciate that they gave that to me. It was something above and beyond what I expected. Hopefully I perform well too.

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