Tag: elsa jacquemot

Young guns to watch on the ITF Tour

THE International Tennis Federation (ITF) is well and truly stacked with developing talent, and Draft Central is beginning to delve into the young guns coming up through the ranks emphasising those who have burst onto the scene and showcased some exciting qualities in their junior years. While many of these players are beginning to feed into the ATP and WTA Tours, there are some great youngsters who are yet to break into the fold and will look to build on their 2020 form heading into the new year. All rankings are as of November 30, 2020,

Junior boys

Carlos Alcaraz (ESP)

Age: 17
ATP Tour ranking: 141

An exciting youngster looking to really break onto the ATP Tour scene is Alcaraz, with the developing Spaniard proving he is more than capable of producing excellent wins. With five titles to his name in 2020, including three clay court Challengers to go with his two M15 hard court titles, there is no doubt Alcaraz has the star power to continue propelling himself up the rankings and hitting some real strides.

Lorenzo Musetti (ITA)

Age: 18
ATP Tour ranking: 128

The young Italian is the second ranked youngster on the ATP Tour at the moment, and it shows in his consistency and drive to continue going one better. While still developing his craft and looking to continue his strong efforts against top 100 players, Musetti has showcased plenty of potential on Tour since debuting in 2019, and will look to keep his strong run going in 2021.

Brandon Nakashima (USA)

Age: 19
ATP Tour ranking:

American youngster Nakashima is a talent worth keeping an eye on, with the ability to be the next big thing credit to his high work rate and powerful swing. Like Musetti, Nakashima’s ability to shock top 100 players has been a key to developing his skill, flourishing on wildcard entries and using his athleticism to fly out of the blocks. Currently at his peak ranking and steadily developing, look to see Nakashima continue well into 2021.

Harold Mayot (FRA)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking:
ATP Tour ranking: 

ITF world number one Mayot is an exciting developing talent, with the 2020 Junior Australian Open title under his belt and a proven winning ability. With plenty of tenacity and determination, Mayot still has a way to go before truly impacting on the ATP Tour scene, but there is no doubt he will get there once he further develops against strong, more experienced bodies.

Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune (DEN)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 2
ATP Tour ranking: 511

A consistent performer on the ITF Tour, Rune is one to watch in the future. While he did not win a Challenger tournament, as was his 2020 goal, three M15 titles on the senior ITF Tour is certainly nothing to sniff about. More than that, and it proves the 17-year-old is more than capable of competing against those bigger bodies in the future, especially on his preferred surface of clay.

Dominic Stephan Stricker (SUI)

Age: 18
ITF Tour ranking: 3

While Stricker is yet to really break onto the ATP Tour scene, the youngster has proven he is ready to step up to the next level and with a current ranking of third on the ITF rankings, there is no doubt he has the capacity to do so when he gets an opportunity – and an uninterrupted season. A Junior Roland Garros title in 2020 and the likes of Roger Federer to look up to certainly will aid in his progression heading into 2021.

Junior girls

Coco Gauff (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 48

One of the most high profile young guns in the world at the moment, Gauff is the gift that keeps on giving with her rate of development and potential given how far she has come in such a short time. Still just 16-years-old, Gauff’s  ability to leave it all on the court and command victory as an underdog – including two straight sets victories over Venus Williams – have seen her rocket into media attention.

Daria Lopatetska (UKR)

Age: 17
WTA Tour ranking: 355

Another exciting youngster breaking onto the scene is Lopatetska, with the versatile Ukrainian able to put out excellent efforts across a range of surfaces and, even with an interrupted season following on from major knee surgery in 2019, has showcased plenty of grit and determination to get back out there. With a heap of potential and Elina Svitolina on her side, it is only a matter of time before Lopatetska is back on the cards.

Katrina Scott (USA)

Age: 16
WTA Tour ranking: 447

Scott may still be only 16-years-old, but her exciting potential has seen her rocket into contention on the WTA Tour alongside Gauff, following her compatriot’s footsteps onto the senior rankings well before expected. A competitive youngster who has showed no signs of stopping since her debut at the 2020 US Open as a wildcard, expect Scott to continue developing and keep the USA superpower going as she heads up the rankings.

Polina Kudermetova (RUS)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 6
WTA Tour ranking: 775

The younger sister of Veronika Kudermetova, there is no doubt 17-year-old Polina knows what it takes really break onto the WTA Tour stage. While she has not really made it there yet – in part because of the COVID-19 pandemic and limited court time – the Russian youngster is a proven winner throughout the years and, with an ability to fight every second, will look to continue developing with more time in 2021.

Elsa Jacquemot (FRA)

Age: 17
ITF Tour ranking: 1
WTA Tour ranking: 535

The 2020 Junior Roland Garros winner and current world number one on the junior ITF Tour, Jacquemot is one to watch in the future. With two titles to her name in 2020 and a whopping 89 per cent win rate – 12 straight on clay – the French 17-year-old may not have broken onto the WTA Tour just yet but certainly has the proven winning ability to be a huge threat on Tour.

Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva (AND)

Age: 15
ITF Tour ranking: 2

The youngest player on this list is 15-year-old Andorran Jimenez Kasintseva, and while she is still developing her court craft there is no denying she is a star of the future, holding the Junior Australian Open title in 2020 and only leaving top spot on the ITF rankings when Jacquemot took out the Roland Garros title. With an overall win rate of 88 per cent and just three losses on tour, expect big things from the young gun.

WTA Teenage Stars – Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva

WHILE this 15-year-old Andorran may not be on your radar quite yet, Victoria Jimenez Kasintseva is one to watch in the future with her youth and potential making her a hugely exciting player coming up the ranks on tour. While not technically yet on the WTA Tour singles rankings, Jimenez Kasintseva is a left-handed talent with plenty to prove, going from being ranked 25th on the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Junior world rankings in 2019, to rocketing into top spot after winning the 2020 Junior Australian Open on her major debut. She is now nestled comfortably in second on the rankings, only behind Elsa Jacquemot after the French 17-year-old took out the Junior Roland Garros.

Looking at what makes Jimenez Kasintseva such a threatening youngster, and her father’s professional experience in tennis is one of the standout reasons why. While Joan Jimenez Guerra did not make it into the top 500 in his day – 1999 – his elite tennis knowledge and coaching expertise has allowed the now 15-year-old to develop at a rate of knots.  

“It’s my parents that gave me that fighting spirit. It’s them. It’s just (who I am),” Jimenez Kasintseva said, following her Australian Open title. “I’m competitive in and out of the court. I was born with it. But also, losing is learning and if you want to be a tennis player, you have to learn to lose. It’s part of the game.”

Factoring in Jimenez Kasintseva’s proven competitiveness and never-say-die attitude – with four of her six wins at the Australian Open coming in three sets – and the youngster’s clear affinity for all surfaces, with 21 wins and just three losses to her name in 2020, there is no doubt she will be a force to be reckoned with over the coming years.

“At the moment of victory in Australia, I don’t remember what I was thinking – I was just so happy,” she said ahead of the Junior Roland Garros in late September. “It was something so different to me and a unique feeling. I didn’t think I would be in that position.”

Following her history-making win for Andorra in January, tennis has proved hard to come by due to the restrictive nature of COVID-19 and its continuous repercussions. While the ITF Tour continued in August alongside both the WTA and ATP Tours, the youngster has been limited in how much she can compete but collected her first win out of lockdown, the J1 Plovdiv Cup tournament in Bulgaria in late October.

“With lockdown, I lost track of my tennis a little bit,” she said. “It has been very hard for me to come back and I have had some tough moments and some tough tournaments.”

With very little experience on the professional tour, it still remains to be seen whether Jimenez Kasintseva can take that next step and provide a thorn in the side of more than just players her own age. That being said, with eight ITF titles over 2019/20 – six alone in 2019 –  across five different ITF grades, the youngster has proven she is more capable of stepping up to the next level, and seems to flourish at each progression.

“I try to go step by step… I will see. I just go little by little. I don’t want to rush. Tournament by tournament.”

While the 2021 Junior Australian Open has unfortunately been delayed due to COVID-19 limitations around international travel to Melbourne in January, the youngster will be relieved to know she has a real chance of backing up her maiden win and proving it was more than a one-time victory.

WTA Teenage Stars – Elsa Jacquemot

SHE may not quite have the same reputation already as some of the WTA Tour players on our list of WTA teenage stars, but while France’s Elsa Jacquemot may lack WTA experience, she has a winning mentality on the ITF Tour that knows no bounds. With seven junior ITF titles to her name dating back to 2017, including a come-from-behind Junior Roland Garros title last month, Jacquemot has proved to be a tough competitor and real fighter on tour. 

Still only 17-years-old and sitting pretty at number one on the ITF Junior Rankings following her Junior Roland Garros win against Russian Alina Charaeva, there is no doubt the youngster’s ability is downplayed by her low ranking on the WTA Tour, currently ranked 534th on the WTA rankings – but purely due to her lack of experience on that circuit, with just four matches under her belt across her career, and three as a wildcard across both the 2019 and 2020 WTA Tour Roland Garros.

While Jacquemot’s focus has mostly been on the ITF Tour, it seems to have worked in her favour with the Junior Roland Garros title propelling her into the spotlight, seeing her become the first French girl to win a Junior Grand Slam since now-27-year-old Kristina Mladenovic in 2009.

“It’s just amazing. I don’t think I have realised what I have achieved yet,” she said. “I am super happy and want to savour this moment.

“This win is a bonus for the future and hopefully winning here will help me, but the road is long and there is a long way to go in my career. For the moment, I will continue to savour it… There are a lot of emotions and stress when playing a Junior Grand Slam final and it goes very quickly. There were times I needed to breathe and work out how to be more aggressive.

“In the end, all was fine and it’s incredible. Winning here and being the first French girl to do so since 2009, that makes me very happy.”

A proven clay court talent with 11 wins from 11 ITF clay court matches, Jacquemot’s tenacity and fighting mentality make her a tough battle any day, and will be a real force to be reckoned with when she formally joins the WTA Tour circuit.

WTA Teenage Stars – Coco Gauff

Slovenian teenager stuns Kerber to claim first French Open win

SLOVANIAN teenager Kaja Juvan has stunned one of Roland Garros’ title contenders by defeating former world number one and Grand Slam winner, Angelique Kerber. The German star was expected to advance fairly comfortably against her 19-year-old opponent, but instead in just her second French Open match, Juvan claimed the win in a 6-3 6-3 upset.

The match lasted just over an hour, and Juvan showed no fear by toppling the 18th seed, in the same fashion that she took Serena Williams to three sets on Juvan’s Wimbledon debut. Juvan’s aggressiveness paid off, hitting 27 winners to 15, and only conceding 19 unforced errors to Kerber’s 30. She also won 68 per cent off her second serve, and 57 per cent of her points off her opponent’s serve.

“It doesn’t matter to me who the draw is, but when you play against players who have a lot of titles, you say to yourself, okay, I watched them on TV when I was little, but I have to stay focused on myself,” Juvan said post-match. “So I did what I had to do. “But in the end, we had to wait three hours to play. And so we were trying to warm up, I was trying to stay aggressive. That’s why I won her in the end, because she’s a fantastic player.”

Speaking of Williams, she overcame a tight first set tiebreaker to blow away fellow American Kristie Ahn in the second set to advance through to the next round with a 7-6 6-0 win. There she takes on a familiar face in Bulgarian wildcard, Tsvetana Pironkova who took the American to three sets at the US Open.

“She’s playing well, but I am too,” Williams said post-match about her upcoming Round of 64 match. “I’m ready to play her. “She’ll be ready to play me. “It will be a long match, she will get a lot of balls back, but so am I. “I’ll be ready.”

Second seed Karolina Pliskova breezed through to the Round of 64, defeating Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova, joined in the next round by fellow top contenders, Elina Svitolina, Garbine Muguruza, Kiki Bertens and Petra Kvitova who all won their respective matches. Meanwhile American teenager Amanda Anisimova won in a blitz over German Tamara Korpatch.

It was not as positive for Poland’s Magda Linette who went down to Canadian teenage prodigy Leylah Fernandez in three sets, while Madison Keys also lost in the opening round of the Grand Slam she holds, out to China’s Shuai Zhang. Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also took out a seed, winning in a topsy-turvy 6-1 2-6 6-1 victory over Svetlana Kuznetsova. The final seed to lose was Czech 22nd seed, Karolina Muchova who bowed out at the hands of Christina McHale, 6-2 6-4.

In the unseeded matches, Clara Burel advanced to the second round of her home Grand Slam with a win over Arantxa Rus to face Juvan in the second round, while Alize Cornet won in an all-French battle against another wildcard in Chloe Paquet. It was not as positive for Diane Parry who lost out to Polona Hercog in straight sets, as did Elsa Jacquemot after the wildcard went down to Mexican qualifier, Renata Zarazua.

Other winners on day two were Patricia Maria Tig, Su Wei Hsieh, Katerina Siniakova, Bernarda Pera, and Italian duo, Jasmine Paolini and Sara Errani.