Whitney Osuigwe (USA) and Yibing Wu (CHN)
Sixteen of the world’s leading young players will take part in the 2017 ITF Junior Masters at the Sichuan International Tennis Centre in Chengdu, China on 25-29 October.
The third edition of the competition is the first to be held at the end of the year and forms part of the race to become ITF Junior World Champion. The ITF Junior Masters is an international event showcasing eight male and eight female players in who qualified on the basis of their 18-and-under ITF Junior World Ranking.
This year’s event has been fully incorporated into the 18-and-under ITF Junior Circuit and will offer junior world ranking points for the first time to help determine the year-end No. 1 ranking. A total prize fund of $160,000 in travel grants will also be made available to participants.
Russia’s Andrey Rublev and Shilin Xu of China won the inaugural competition in 2015, while Seong Chan Hong of Korea and Anna Blinkova of Russia were victorious in 2016.
Junior world No. 2 Whitney Osuigwe headlines the girls’ draw. The American’s top moment this year came back in June when she won the all-American Junior Roland Garros girls’ singles final against Claire Liu, winning 64 67(5) 63 for her first junior Grand Slam title.
Osuigwe will face stiff competition from Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk. The world No. 3 lifted the first Grand Slam title of the year in Melbourne when she defeated Rebeka Masarova 75 16 64 to win the Junior Australian Open.
Russian Elena Rybakina and Slovenia's Kaja Juvan both have Grade A singles titles to their name. Rybakina, the world No. 5, defeated Iga Swiatek 16 76(5) 63 to lift the Trofeo Bonfiglio title in Milan in May. Juvan meanwhile, finished 216 on a high, only dropping one set en route to clinching the Orange Bowl title, defeating 2016 ITF Junior World Champion Anastasia Potapova 61 64 in the final.
American Sofia Sewing and Xin Yu Wang of China have both seen their best performances come on the doubles court. Both ranked inside the Top 10 of the junior rankings, Sewing’s top performance this year came in Brazil in February, when she and Maria Jose Portillo Ramirez lifted the Porto Alegre title. Wang’s top performance came in her most recent tournament, reaching the US Open semifinals, alongside En Shuo Liang of Chinese Taipei.
Argentina’s Maria Lourdes Carle and American Taylor Johnson have also both won important singles titles. Ranked No. 12 and 14 respectively, both of their titles came late in 2016. First, Taylor Johnson lifted the Grade A Abierto Juvenil Mexicana title at the tail-end of November, then, a week later, Carle won the prestigious Eddie Herr title, winning four of her last five matches in the deciding set.
Leading the entry list in the boys’ draw is junior world No. 1, US Open Boys’ singles champion, and home favourite Yibing Wu. Following 3-set wins in the quarterfinal and semifinal, Wu defeated Axel Geller 64 64 in the final, lifting his first junior Grand Slam singles title.
Geller is the world No. 2 and also finished runner-up at the Junior Championships at Wimbledon, falling to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the final. He did not leave SW19 emptyhanded though, as he and Yu Hsiou Hsu won the doubles competition for Geller’s first Grand Slam title.
It was not Hsu’s first Grand Slam title, however, and it seems partnering up with the world No. 7 from Chinese Taipei is the best way to go about claiming a Grand Slam boys’ doubles title, as Hsu has three of them this year. Hsu’s year started with victory in the Australian Open boys’ doubles alongside Lingxi Zhao. The Wimbledon title was next, alongside Geller, and Hsu completed a hat trick of doubles Slam titles when he and Wu won the US Open doubles title. Jurij Rodionov of Austria is another player whose best results have come on the doubles court. Though the world No. 8 is yet to claim a Grade A title, he did reach the Wimbledon boys’ doubles title, falling just short alongside Michael Vrbensky.
World No. 9 Marko Miladinovic of Serbia saw his best performance this season come in May, when he reached the Trofeo Bonfiglio final, falling to Alexei Popyrin in the title match.
Argentina’s Sebastian Baez and American Trent Bryde’s best performances of the year came at the same tournament. At Porto Alegre in February, Baez and Bryde, the world No. 11 and 12 respectively, were due to meet in the doubles final. Unfortunately, Baez and his teammate Ondrej Styler were forced to give a walkover, handing Bryde and fellow American Alafia Ayeni the title. Bryde was not finished, as he defeated Juan Pablo Grassi Mazzuchi 67(5) 60 63 to also win the singles.
Rounding out the entrants is Finland’s Emil Ruusuvuori. Ranked No. 14 in the world, Ruusuvuori’s highlight this year was reaching the final four at the US Open, where he fell in a third set tiebreak to eventual champion Wu.
Whitney Osuigwe (USA)
Marta Kostyuk (UKR)
Elena Rybakina (RUS)
Kaja Juvan (SLO)
Sofia Sewing (USA)
Xin Yu Wang (CHN)
Maria Lourdes Carle (ARG)
Taylor Johnson (USA)
Yibing Wu (CHN)
Axel Geller (ARG)
Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE)
Jurij Rodionov (AUT)
Marko Miladinovic (SRB)
Sebastian Baez (ARG)
Trent Bryde (USA)
Emil Ruusuvuori (FIN)