13 Oct 2017

Day: ITF Junior Masters is 'so much fun'

News Article

Photo: Susan MullaneKayla Day signing autographs

Kayla Day was part of the second crop of youngsters to take part in the ITF Junior Masters back in 2016 and, ahead of this year’s event on 25-29 October, says she has fond memories of her time in Chengdu.

The 18-year-old lefthander reached the semifinals at the 2016 event, ultimately finishing in fourth position in a field that included the likes of fellow emerging prospects Anna Blinkova, Sofia Kenin and Katie Swan.

“It was a really good experience for me - I had so much fun at that tournament,” said Day, who is now ranked at No. 140 in the world. “It really felt like a professional tournament as opposed to more of a junior event. They treat you like they do on the WTA.

“They take really good care of you, with the hotel and all the practice courts... everything just feels really organised. There’s a set time for everything. I really liked it.”

The Junior Masters was held in April in its first two editions, but this year’s event is taking part towards the end of the year to form more of a showpiece year-end event for 2017’s top juniors, and act as a pivotal part of the race to the year-end junior No. 1 ranking – a “really good change” according to Day.

What hasn’t changed is the event’s purpose to help serve as a transition to allow the sport’s most promising junior players to make the jump to the professional game. This year’s event will feature the same quality touches that have helped set it apart as a prestigious competition on the ITF Calendar – many of which left a lasting impact on the then-16-year-old Day.

“For the draw ceremony they took us to the city,” she remembers. “It was right in the middle of the city centre and a bunch of people came and watched. I think that’s a little bit like these bigger tournaments where they have the big draw ceremonies and people come and actually watch.”

Day went on to win the 2016 US Open girls’ title five months after her appearance in Chengdu and has since made promising strides on the professional tour, winning a round in the main draw at the US Open last year and reaching the third round at Indian Wells this year.

While Chengdu was just a small part of her journey so far, the California-born teen heartily recommends the benefits of the ITF Junior Masters.

“I would definitely say to go because it’s a really good competition, everybody’s really tough there,” she said. “It just feels like a pro tournament. It’s a good building block to be able to feel like a professional.”