Tag: katrina scott

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 – Katrina Scott

WHEN it comes to young talent, it seems that the United States are almost bursting at the seams with on the WTA Tour. Another 16-year-old American who burst onto the international tennis scenes at a Grand Slam is Katrina Scott, with the youngster playing in not only her first Grand Slam tournament, but also her maiden WTA Tour appearance and first tournament of the year given the COVID-19 delays. While the talented youngster may have exited during the US Open second round, there is no doubt she made a splash with her impressive Round of 128 victory, and was unfortunate to draw seeded compatriot – and fellow teen – Amanda Anisimova in the second round, though certainly put Anisimova through her paces. 

Entered as a wildcard to the US Open following withdrawals due to Coronavirus concerns and ranked world number 637 prior to competing, Scott now sits just within the 450 zone and has aspirations to continue climbing.

“Once I want something I work as hard as I can to get it, and do anything possible to get it,” Scott said in an interview with the New York Times. “Anything in life, I’m super competitive in all aspects of life. Even off the court, I always want to win.”

The youngster’s delay starting 2020 was not just because of the global pandemic though, with Scott relocating from Los Angeles to Columbus, Ohio in 2019 and taking six months away from the Tour with coach David Kass to develop her skill – which quickly turned into nine months given the circumstances. 

“She’d been more of a defensive player throughout juniors, and in our opinion that needed to change in order to have a lot of success on the pro tour,” Kass said. “That’s a major change, in terms of attacking the ball and your court positioning.”

“Her forehand started over with a totally different swing… Learning a new swing is not the hardest thing to do over time, but unlearning a swing you’ve been doing for years is extremely hard.”

There is no doubt the changes benefited Scott, and while she has not competed since the US Open back in early September, she is certainly one to watch especially given the United States’ track record with developing young players, with 18 players within the top 100 and fellow teens Anisimova and Coco Gauff within the top 50. Add in the likes of Sofia Kenin, Madison Keys, Jennifer Brady, Bernarda Pera, Taylor Townsend and Ann Li, who are all age 25 and under, and the future of US tennis is bright.

Homegrown talent impresses at US Open

A COUPLE of intriguing winners will hit the court in the second round at the WTA Tour’s 2020 US Open after a huge second day of Round of 128 action. It was a stellar output from the United States homegrown talent, with nine American representatives skating through.

Serena Williams – who is hunting down an elusive 24th Grand Slam title – and youngster Katrina Scott who at only 16-years-old is a wildcard at her first major tournament – both made it through relatively unscathed to come out of the first round with convincing winz on the board. Williams’ opponent, compatriot Kristie Ahn had a solid start and rounded out the first set tiebreaker well, but fell at Williams’ impressive serve as the champion racked up 13 aces and an 85 per cent win rate off her first serve. For Scott, a huge 7-6 first set win gave her a wealth of confidence against her Russian opponent Natalia Vikhlyantseva, but will meet fellow American teenager and 22nd seed Amanda Anisimova in a huge second round after the now-19-year-old defeated Bulgarian Viktoriya Tomova in two tight sets, 7-5 7-5.

All seeded Americans in Williams, Anisimova, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin were convincing on court with an average winning time of one hour and 13 minutes. Bernarda Pera and Casey McNally had dominant second sets to take out victory. With 15 American names in the draw, just a few of the USA talent were knocked from contention, including Venus Williams who was defeated by 20th seed Karolina Muchova, while the likes of Ahn and Taylor Townsend were unlucky to draw compatriots and sent home by Serena Williams and Sachia Vickery respectively. Lauren Davis forged an impressive second set comeback before being run down by in-form Frenchwoman Alize Cornet.

Western & Southern Open victor Victoria Azarenka continued where she left off, making it through unscathed on day two of the Grand Slam. Despite a strong start, former world number one Kim Clijsters was knocked aside by 21st seed Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova, while Elise Mertens and Johanna Konta were also too strong, though Konta had to surpass a tough start from British compatriot Heather Watson to head through to the second round in an hour and 48 minutes.

Australian Open runner up Garbine Muguruza similarly ran away winners in two sets, with just six matches for the day take to three sets and just two of the 16 seeds – Veronika Kudermetova and Saisai Zheng – going down to unseeded opposition in 18-year-old Iga Swiatek and Ysaline Bonaventure. Despite a tough effort from Frenchwoman Oceane Dodin, fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka outlasted her opposition in 90 minutes, as did Donna Vekic in a three set battle against Czech Kristyna Pliskova and 15th seed Maria Sakkari despite a second set comeback from Stefanie Voegele.

Joining the aforementioned players in the second round are Ons Jabeur, Margarita Gasparyan, Patricia Maria Tig, Tsvetana Pironkova, Olga Govortsova, Sara Sorribes Tormo, Sorana Cirstea, Kaia Kanepi, Leylah Fernandez, Anna Kalinskaya and Aliona Bolsova.