Photo: Susan MullaneFilip Peliwo (CAN)
Canada’s Filip Peliwo made the tennis world sit up and take note last year. Not only did he win two junior Grand Slam titles, Peliwo became the first player to reach the final at all four junior slams in a calendar year since Australian Mark Kratzmann in 1984. Named ITF Junior World Champion for his efforts, the 19-year-old Vancouver native is now concentrating on translating his junior success to the professional tour. Here, in the first of a five-part blog series for ITF Juniors, Peliwo admits that stepping on to the first rung of the ladder has been as challenging as he expected.
I’d be lying if I said making the step up from juniors wasn’t a struggle at first. I lost quite a few ranking points at the beginning of this year due to an injury which meant I was unable to match my best Challenger result (a semifinal finish at the Rimouski Challenger in Canada in March 2012). I’ve pretty much been making up all those points since April, but now I’ve finally made them up things are starting to go well and I’m climbing up the rankings a bit more than I was before. It hasn’t exactly been an amazing season but I was expecting a bit of a struggle from juniors to pros. Things are definitely starting to get better.
I knew it was possible that making the jump from juniors would be tough but I didn’t realise how difficult it was going to be to maintain the form that I’d need to get consistent results. I have got a bit frustrated about it throughout the year but I’m in a good head space now. Things are going well and I’m not really too focussed on the results. I’m concentrating on my game and taking it one match at a time rather than going in to a tournament thinking ‘okay, it’s a weaker tournament, maybe I should make the semis or the finals here’. Instead, I’m focussing on the match in front of me and that attitude has been treating me well.
My best Futures results since leaving the juniors are a couple of finals, in Mexico last November and in Greece this May. I was just a couple of points away from winning my second final [against Michal Konecny] - I served for it at a set, 5-4 and 30-0 up - so I was a bit disappointed to lose that.
My best career result so far is reaching the semifinals at the Rimouski Challenger last March, and last week I made a Challenger quarterfinal in Granby, Canada (losing to Frank Dancevic) so I’m starting to get my results up week by week. Hopefully I can make another semifinal at a Challenger or go further and get another big boost in the rankings.
One of the great things about doing so well at the junior Grand Slams last year was being able to play in front of big crowds. I always enjoy the experience and I think I fed off the energy of the big crowds last year. I’m the kind of guy that has to be really pumped up and has to have a lot of adrenaline to play my best and big crowds definitely help me in that sense, especially if they’re cheering for me.
It might have been a bit tougher to motivate myself at the beginning of this year when playing at events when nobody was watching, but I’ve found ways to try to force myself to get pumped up. It’s definitely easier to get pumped up when there are a couple hundred, couple thousand people watching, but it’s not like I expected there to be massive crowds at a Futures event so I was totally fine with that. Small crowds don’t really bother me though - as long as I win my matches I’m happy!
Peliwo talks 2012, chatting to Roger Federer and offers advice to other juniors about making the leap up to the professional tour in his second blog on Friday.