Photo: Susan MullaneFilp Peliwo (CAN)
Last year, Canada’s Filip Peliwo became the first player to reach the final at all four junior slams in a calendar year since Australian Mark Kratzmann in 1984, winning titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. 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. In the second of a five-part blog series for ITF Juniors, Peliwo reflects on an ‘unbelievable’ year in 2012 and an unforgettable chat with Roger Federer.
Reaching the final at all four junior slams last year was an unbelievable experience and something I’ll never forget. I was ecstatic about being able to finish the year on a high after losing the first two finals, but even to be able get to one final was great because at the beginning of the year I didn’t really expect to do that well. How the year panned out was more than exciting for me. I’m happy with what I achieved and it showed me that when I’m in a good mental state, even when I’m not playing well, I feel like I can do a lot of good things.
Obviously there were some great perks that came with those achievements, especially being a part of the Champions’ Dinner at Wimbledon because I managed to meet Roger Federer and talk to him for a couple of minutes. He didn’t really give me too much advice but he asked how my year was going and congratulated me about it. I tried not to talk too much about myself!
Instead, I asked him how his twins were doing and he was pretty excited to talk about them. We didn’t get into too much detail about tennis – there were a lot of people waiting for pictures so I only had a couple of minutes to chat, but if I do get another chance I’ll definitely ask him for a couple of tips! I’ll never forget the experience though, and it definitely motivated me to keep working as hard as I can.
I was also invited to the ITF World Champions Dinner in June this year [to collect the ITF Junior World Champion award]. I had a great time and it was definitely something that I would like to be a part of in the future as a pro. I just have to keep working as hard as I can if I’m going to get invited back! I think I’m on the right track. I feel like I’ve been making steady progress throughout the year and even though my results haven’t always been ideal, I feel like my game has been improving even if it has been up and down at times. It’s starting to come together as a unit now.
I’ve been asked a few times about making the jump from juniors to seniors and my advice is to try to focus on your game and on improving. There are going to be some struggles. A lot of people do struggle coming out of juniors and you can’t expect to have the same results that you had in juniors, if you had a good year, right away. It’s possible that it might happen of course - there have been people that have come out of juniors, had a couple of breakthrough tournaments and really moved up, but more often than not it’s going to be a little bit of a struggle at first.
My advice is don’t panic. Keep working on getting better and eventually it will come if you work on the right things and don’t worry too much about the results. Obviously you do want to do well but you’ve got to be patient with it.
Secondly, obviously if you have a good year in juniors you’re going to have a lot of interviews and that kind of stuff so it’s important to try to keep your head focussed on the tennis. It is easy to get distracted with interviews or people trying to help you out. You get a lot of different forms of advice from people that come up to you and while some of it is good, some of it isn’t that helpful. Even if it is helpful, just getting too much advice isn’t always great.
Take what you can from whatever people are trying to help you with but it’s important to be able to keep a focussed mind, stay on task and not have your head run around too much. It’s important to stay humble too because if you do get a bit arrogant about your junior results that won’t help your tennis, or your reputation!
Peliwo talks rankings, goals and reflects on making his Grand Slam qualifying debut at 2013 Wimbledon in his third blog next Wednesday.