The Junior Grand Slams provide a revealing look at the future landscape of the professional tours as the world’s top teenagers arrive on location for the start of the second week. Earning the opportunity to compete alongside their idols on the outer courts in a bid to add a major junior title to their trophy cabinet, the junior Slams provide a taste of what life could be like at the top of the game.
It can be of no surprise that so many tennis greats have succeeded first at the junior Grand Slams before rising to the top of the men's and women's game. In some respects having your talent recognised as a junior Grand Slam champion is a powerful indicator of future stardom because you have far fewer opportunities to do well at these events so to get the job done you really need to have something special.
With the fixture pile-up at Flushing Meadows due to the weather wiping out two whole days of play, the juniors had to temporarily relocate to the indoor courts nearby at New York's Sound Shore Club at Porchester for a couple of rounds. They also had to endure a tough schedule, playing two singles matches in a day on top of the doubles, to make up for time lost, so this year really was a trial of mental and physical strength.
Incredibly as the semi-finals were reached, three out of the last four competitors remaining in the boys' singles came from Great Britain, Twickenham’s Oliver Golding, 17, Bolton boy George Morgan, 18, and Kyle Edmund, 16, from East Yorkshire were all in with a chance of winning the title, and in the girls', four unseeded American kids were making names for themselves at their home event.
As September 11 arrived, it was the 2010 Wimbledon semi-finalist and former world No.4 junior, Golding, who found himself playing the greatest tennis of his life, causing an upset to claim the US Open boys' title with an 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 victory over world No.1 Czech left-hander, Jiri Vesely.
Golding had not won a title since 2009, and earned the biggest win of his career on Court 11, where not so long ago a young Andy Murray made his first headline winning the boy’s event in 2004. Golding becomes the second Briton to lift the US Open boy's trophy in its 44-year history.
Atlanta-born Grace Min, winner of the doubles title at this year's Wimbledon, carried her confidence of winning at SW19 to Flushing Meadows, and really earned her silverware by ousting the second seed Irina Khromacheva in straight sets in the first round and overcoming the highly rated French top seed Caroline Garcia (from the same home town as 2006 Wimbledon champion Amelie Mauresmo), 7-5, 7-6(3) in the final.
Wimbledon boys' singles champion, Luke Saville of Australia, disappointingly went out in the first round while our girl’s champion, Ashleigh Barty, 15, fared better than her compatriot, reaching the semi-finals before going out to Garcia.
Stockport's Wimbledon finalsist, Liam Broady, the fourth Brit at the US Open, lost in three sets to a tough US competitor in the third round, but was there to support fellow Brit Golding in the final.
The juniors will next be heading Down Under to Australia for the start of the 2012 season in the next junior Grand Slam event and we will look forward to watching their progress before they return to the grass of the All England Club next year.