24 Oct 2017

2017 ITF Junior Masters: Who's who

News Article

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicWhitney Osuigwe (USA)

In the build up to this year’s ITF Junior Masters, we are introducing the players who will compete in Chengdu. Our latest article takes a closer look at top seed in the girls’ draw, American Whitney Osuigwe.

Despite being just 15 years of age, Osuigwe made her junior debut back in May 2015, less than a month after turning 13. She was handed a wildcard into the singles draw at a Grade 4 event in Florida and went on to reach the quarterfinals. She went one better in the doubles, making the semifinals.

The following week, she claimed her first junior title. Again with the use of a wildcard, she stormed through the field of the Grade 4 event, only dropping one set on her way to the final. She was made to work for the title but eventually overcame Carson Branstine in three sets.

Her blistering start on the juniors circuit earned her a wildcard into the 2015 Junior US Open qualifying in just her fourth tournament, but she was unable to reach the main draw.

In November 2015, she earned her first main draw win in a Grade A event. Having come through qualifying at the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, she reached the second round but fell in three sets to Evgeniya Levashova.

Osuigwe suffered a slow start to 2016, suffering early defeats as she made the step up to playing Grade 1 events. A dip back down to Grade 4 provided a welcome confidence boost as she reached a semifinal and two finals, but could not claim a second career title.

She played her first Junior Grand Slam main draw match courtesy of a wildcard into the US Open, but fell at the hands of Iga Swiatek.

In her final tournament in 2016, the Grade A Orange Bowl, Osuigwe had her best result of her career to date, reaching the semifinals. She defeated Marta Kostyuk in the quarterfinals but fell to Kaja Juvan in the semis, both opponents of Osuigwe in Chengdu this week.

The American began 2017 with her first Grade 1 title, defeating another of this week’s opponents, Maria Lourdes Carle en route to the Asuncion Bowl trophy in Paraguay. That win signalled a shift for Osuigwe and she followed it up with her second Grade 1 title, this time winning the Banana Bowl in Brazil. She dropped just one set in each tournament.

She fell in the third round of the Grade A in Porto Alegre to another competitor in Chengdu this week in Maria Camila Osorio Serrano, but earned her first Grade A title at the Trofeo Bonfiglio in Milan in May. She reached the quarterfinals of the singles competition, but, alongside fellow American Caty McNally, lifted the doubles crown.

In June, Osuigwe won her first main draw match at a junior major, defeatingWhitney Osuigwe (USA) Simona Waltert in three sets in the opening round of Junior Roland Garros. This was a turning point for Osuigwe, who won her next two matches in three sets before going on to reach the final, defeating two Junior Masters competitors in Wang Xin Yu and Elena Rybakina along the way. The title decider was an all-American clash against Claire Liu, and Osuigwe won in three close sets to clinch the title.

At Junior Wimbledon, Osuigwe reached the quarterfinals in the singles but, alongside McNally once again, reached her first doubles Grand Slam final. She was unable to clinch the title, however, falling to Olga Danilovic and Kaja Juvan in the final.

Unfortunately, she was unable to replicate her Slam performance on home soil, falling to Anastasia Kharitonova. She and McNally also fell in the opening round of the doubles.

Last week, Osuigwe contested the Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup in Japan, and reached the final without dropping a set. However, in the title match she lost to Wang Xin Yu. Osuigwe and Wang will be in separate groups this week.

On the ITF Pro Circuit, Osuigwe made her first main draw appearance in her second tournament, in June 2016. Having come through qualifying of a $10,000 event in USA, the American overcame Gabriela Ce in three sets in the opening round on her way to a quarterfinal finish.

Another quarterfinal appearance followed in July but, having made a step up to higher-profile tournaments in 2017, she is yet to have the same success, with three second round appearances to her name this year.

In August, Osuigwe was handed a wildcard into US Open qualifying, but could not reach the main draw in what is her most recent professional event.

In September, Osuigwe was part of the USA team that won the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas title. The Florida native won all eight of the rubbers she played across the week, only dropping one of the 17 sets she contested.

The 2017 ITF Junior Masters will take place at the Sichuan International Tennis Center in Chengdu, China on 25-29 October.