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Past junior champions seek road to glory

Luke Saville (AUS) collecting the Boys' Singles trophy from The Duke of Kent after defeating Liam Broady (GBR) 2-6, 6-4, 6-2.
by Benjamin Snyder
Friday 6 July 2012

With six-time Gentlemen’s Champion Roger Federer and Ladies’ Singles finalist Agnieszka Radwanska on Wimbledon’s junior honour rolls, the current crop of rising stars who have tasted the ultimate success on grass in the past two years are making inroads of their own among the professional ranks.

Defending champion Luke Saville of Australia, 18, has enjoyed a blossoming boys’ career since defeating Great Britain’s Liam Broady 2-6, 6-4, 6-2 in last year’s junior final. Although he fell in the first round at the US Open, the 2011 Junior Australian Open runner-up earned success at his home Slam by going one step further to claim the title and kick off his 2012 in fine form.

While he holds the top ranking for the boys, it has been a slower start for Saville’s budding professional career. The Australian currently holds a ranking of No.594, only spots removed from his personal best of No.588, earned on June 11 of this year.

Notably, there have been some positives in the big leagues for Saville, who is currently competing simultaneously as a junior. For instance, Saville claimed his first professional title at a Futures event in Bangkok, Thailand earlier this year. He also played qualifying at events in Australia, including the Open – where he’s fallen in the first round for the past three years.

One year after defeating Broady, Saville finds himself gunning for the title for the second straight year, where he will face off against Canada's Filip Peliwo, whom Saville beat to win the boys' singles in Melbourne this January. 

As the 2011 titlist continues his winning standard of play among the boys, the 2010 winner, Marton Fucsovics looks poised to find his foothold against the men. Currently at a career-high best of No.512, the Hungarian recently jumped 43 spots in the rankings. He advanced to his first round of an ATP event on the lawns of s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands after coming through qualifying. Fucsovics’s momentum came to a halt against world No. 70 Tatsuma Ito of Japan in a 144-minute, 6-3, 3-6, 6-7(2) affair.

Ashleigh Barty claimed the 2011 Girls’ Championship alongside Australian compatriot Saville. Unlike Saville, however, the 16-year old has stopped competing on the juniors circuit, focusing instead on a professional career. With her win last year, Barty earned a wild card into the 2012 ladies’ event, losing in the opening round to world No. 21 Roberta Vinci, 6-2, 6-4. Notably, the 258th-ranked Australian has competed in each of the three Grand Slam main draws so far this year, losing in the opening round of each.

On the ITF circuit, Barty is already a star this season, advancing to the finals at each event she’s played. Victorious at Nottingham, Mildura and Sydney over the year, she’s won 21 of 22 ITF matches, but has dropped every match played on the Tour in straight sets.

Another 2012 Ladies’ Singles competitor, Kristyna Pliskova, won her Wimbledon girls’ title in 2010. A successful qualifier in 2011, she again battled her way past opponents on the Roehampton courts this year. The 20-year old Czech – joined this time by twin sister Karolina in the main draw – defeated Polona Hercog in the first round before falling to 2010 Roland Garros champion Francesca Schiavone in the second.

Highlighting other results earlier in the year, the world No. 148 lefty took an ITF title in Andrezieux and lost to her sister in the final at Grenoble. Additionally, the Czech advanced to a first Tour-level Round of 16 at Kuala Lumpur in February.

Neither of those big names are in the girls' singles this year though, the final instead falling between Canada's Eugenie Bouchard, competing in the twilight of her junior career, and the Ukraine's Elina Svitolina, who came through a tight three-setter against another Canadian, Francoise Abanda. 

They will face off on Saturday afternoon on No.1 Court for a chance to hold a piece of Wimbledon silverware. 

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