Since I don't follow the junior circuit closely, I asked someone who does to cast a glance across that competition and offer some insights on rising stars. Nick Rodrigues of McGill University in Montreal, Canada agreed to share his thoughts about a topic that he knows much better than I do. You can follow Nick @BraveThinkSol on Twitter.
2012 was a noteworthy year on the ITF junior boys’ circuit. Former boys’ number one Luke Saville ended his remarkable junior career by reaching the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals for the second consecutive year and winning the singles title at Melbourne. He later went on to win two Futures titles on the ITF pro circuit. Also in 2012, Canadian Filip Peliwo became the first player since Mark Kratzmann (1984) to reach all four junior Grand Slam finals in a calendar year. Outside of the four Slams, however, five grade-A ITF events were all won by different players.
2013 promises to be an equally exciting year on the juniors’ circuit, if not more. With the first Grand Slam of the year just around the corner, here are my suggestions for five up-and-coming players whom everyone should get to know this year.
5. Frederico Ferreira Silva – The left-handed player from Portugal first caught my attention when he reached both singles and doubles finals at “Abierto Juvenil Mexicano” (one of the 5 non-slam grade-A tournaments on the circuit) at the start of the 2012 season. He won the doubles title (with Connor Farren) and lost the singles final to Stefano Nepolitano. Silva produced solid overall results in the rest of 2012, which included reaching the singles round of 16 in three out of four majors. In September, he became the first Portuguese player to win any event at a Grand Slam when he captured the boys’ doubles title at the US Open, partnering with Kyle Edmund.
Frederico compares his playing style to those of current top-10 ATP players Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray. With his experience at the big tournaments, look out for this 17 year-old to win more junior Slam trophies this year.
4. Christian Garin (@CrisGarin on Twitter) – With an impressive total of 6 titles (5 doubles and 1 singles) in 2012, this Chilean is the youngest (16 years and 7 months) player in the current boys’ top-10. Some of the highlights of his last season included winning singles and doubles titles at the Eddie Herr Championships. He also won the doubles trophy at the Orange Bowl (under 18s) Tennis Championship, teaming up with fellow Chilean Nicolas Jarry. In September 2012, Garin became the youngest player ever to represent Chile in a Davis Cup tie.
Ranked inside the top 1000 of the ATP well before his 17th birthday, Garin is being compared to tennis veterans like Marcelo Rios and Fernando Gonzalez by experts. One thing is for sure; we will hear a lot more about this young talent in coming years.
3. My third pick for talented teen players was a regular hitting partner of Roger Federer at last year’s Wimbledon. If you guessed Kyle Edmund (@kyle8edmund on twitter; pictured above), you win bragging rights as a hardcore tennis fan.
Kyle joined the growing list of junior Slam winners from Great Britain in recent years when he won the US Open boys’ doubles with Frederico Silva. In addition to the doubles win, Edmund also reached singles quarter-finals at the junior Australian and French Opens. In October, he won his maiden ITF Futures title (USA F29) on the professional Tour and reached one more final.
It should therefore come as no surprise that Edmund was one of 10 junior British athletes shortlisted for BBC’s Young Sports Personality of 2012 award. In 2013, Edmund will be looking to capitalize on his recent momentum in both juniors and pro circuits. Tennis fans will not be disappointed by following this gifted player.
2. Nick Kyrgios – The seventeen-year-old Canberra native had one of the most consistent years in junior Grand Slams in 2012. He reached the semifinals or better of all four majors in doubles, winning Wimbledon and French Open with fellow Aussie Andrew Harris. In singles, he won Osaka Mayer’s Cup (grade-A event) and reached quarterfinals at the US Open and Wimbledon.
Kyrgios started working with Des Tyson (former coach of doubles legends Woodbridge and Woodforde) in 2012. In December, he played in the Australian Open men’s wildcard playoffs. He stunned top-seeded Sam Groth in four sets before retiring in the fifth set against countryman Matthew Barton in his next match.
Following in the footsteps of Bernard Tomic and Luke Saville might not be the easiest task in Australian juniors’ tennis. But Nick Kyrgios seems to be a smart pick for the job in 2013.
1. Gianluigi Quinzi – Quinzi won more titles in 2012 (7 in total; 4 singles and 3 doubles) than any other fellow-players in the year-end junior top 10. These included winning singles at 53 Trofeo Bonfiglio (Grade-A event held in Milan, Italy) and reaching quarterfinals or better in three out of four majors. To top it off, he was an indispensable member of the Italian team winning the junior Davis Cup finals.
Quinzi was first discovered by the Nick Bollettieri Academy (no surprise there) at the age of eight. He has already won numerous awards including “Player of the Year” (Under 14s) by the European Tennis Association in 2010. In 2012, the sixteen-year-old Italian had a breakthrough year on the ITF-pro circuit. Having reached five semifinals and one more final at Futures tournaments, he is currently ranked at no. 561 in ATP rankings.
One thing currently missing from this teen’s more than impressive list of achievements is a junior Grand Slam. But with two more years of junior tournaments still ahead of him, that is unlikely to stay that way for very long. You can find an interesting video of Quinzi’s training session at the end of this article.
These were my picks for junior players ready to grab attention of tennis-world in 2013. Who do you think will come out on top (maybe someone not on this list)? Who are some of your favorite junior players to watch? Let us know in the comments!