For many juniors it’s not only having excellent results on the tennis court that provides excitement. The opportunity to meet tennis superstars is a real thrill. It’s exactly that way for two juniors -- Christian Garin of Chile and second-seeded Belinda Bencic of Switzerland -- who both won their matches at Roland Garros on Tuesday.
The unseeded Garin reached the round-of-16 for the second time in a Grand Slam junior tournament at Roland Garros on Tuesday. Following his round-of-16 showing at Australia in January, Garin is playing his first junior tournament here and on Tuesday defeated Quentin Halys of France 75 60.
“It was a really tough match because he’s from here, he trains here and he’s a really good player and he’s at home,” said the 17-year-old Garin. “I was 5-3 down, 40-15 and her was serving and I said I have to run a lot to win this. He lost two points in a row and I started playing really well.”
Garin ended last season on a high note, winning the prestigious Grade 1 Eddie Herr International Junior Tennis Championships singles title at the end of November, and won the doubles trophy at the Grade A Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship in December.
Nevertheless, none of those achievements have been the highlight of his road in tennis to date.
This year at the VTR Open in Vina del Mar, Chile, Garin had an opportunity to meet and practice with the player he idolizes - Rafael Nadal. They both played at the tournament -- Nadal reached the final, Garin the second round.
“He played in Vina del Mar. I speak with him,” Garin said. “He was injured for like seventh months and he choose to play first in Chile, which is crazy and very big for my country. I hit with him the first day. It was the most exciting day for me in tennis, for now.”
Garin didn’t start playing tennis seriously until age 13, but now he’s completely dedicated to the sport.
“Now I want to be a professional,” Garin said. “I love tennis and it’s my passion. I want to enjoy because if you don’t enjoy your work it is bad because it’s your life.”
For second-seeded Bencic, who won her third round match 63 46 61 against Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil on Tuesday, knowing a tennis great has been commonplace since she was six-years-old. That’s when Bencic, who is coached full-time by her father, Ivan, started to also work with Martina Hingis’ mother, Melanie Molitor.
“She sometimes there so I have hit with her,” Bencic said of Hingis. “I saw her here. Yes, for sure, she’s given me good advice and has supported me at my matches. She’s told me what I can do better, like tactics against opponents.”
Bencic came in here winning the Santa Croce and Milan tournaments ahead of playing at Roland Garros.
The first two sets of the match against Haddad Maia were a struggle for both players, but Bencic ran away with the third set.
“I think it was a tough match because she’s not an easy opponent,” Bencic said. “I knew from the beginning it would be a hard match. I was happy to go through the third set.”
For 15th-seeded Kristina Schmiedlova of Slovakia, tennis is about following in her sister, Anna’s, footsteps. Sister Anna, who now plays on the WTA Tour and is ranked No. 150, was the junior girl finalist here last year, losing to Anika Beck of Germany 36 75 63.
Playing in her first junior Grand Slam tournament, Kristina Schmiedlova won her second round match in a seesaw 62 16 62 victory over Sandra Samir of Eygpt.
“It wasn’t my best match as I didn’t play very good,” Schmiedlova said. “My opponent played very high balls and it wasn’t easy to hit.”
Taylor Townsend had little time to waste in playing her third round match against Victoria Rodriguez of Mexico. The 11th-seeded Townsend posted a 62 63 win and then was off to get ready for her big night at the ITF Champions Dinner where she’ll be honored as the 2012 ITF Junior Girls’ Champion.
“It means a lot and I’m really excited,” Townsend said of being feted at the dinner. “I was able to accomplish my goal (to be No. 1) and it’s a really nice evening to celebrate it.”
Townsend was leaving the getting ready for her second ever formal affair to an expert.
“I don’t know,” when asked how she’ll wear her hair for the gala. “I have no idea and that’s why I’m in a rush. I don’t know what we’re doing. My hair is in the hands of someone else.”
In girls’ action on Tuesday: Top-seeded Ana Konjuh of Croatia defeated Jamie Loeb of USA 75 64; fifth-seeded Antonia Lottner of Germany defeated Anhelina Kalinina of Ukraine 63 64; Sara Sorribes Tormo of Spain upset seventh-seeded Katy Dunne of Great Britain 57 75 63; Lousia Chirico of USA defeated Maria Marfutina of Russia 76 62; Ilka Csoregi of Romania defeated Estelle Cascino of France 76 76; Petra Uberalova of Slovakia defeated Veronika Kudermetova of Russia 62 64; Ayaka Okuno of Japan defeated Chiara Grimm of Switzerland 63 64;
In boys’ action on Tuesday: third-seeded Laslo Djere of Serbia defeated Jorge Brian Panta of Peru 67 62 75; sixth-seeded Gianluigi Quinzi of Italy defeated Stefan Kozlov of USA 36 61 64; Calvin Hemery of France upset seventh-seeded Filippo Baldi of Italy 61 46 63; 11th-seeded Johan Sebastien Tatlot of France defeated Matteo Donati of Italy 64 64; Enzo Couacaud of France defeated Kamil Majchrzak of Poland 75 61; Noah Rubin of USA defeated Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan 61 64; 13th-seeded Guillermo Nunez of Chile defeated Ken Onishi of Japan 63 64;