Anastasia Potapova and Miomir Kecmanovic are 2016 ITF Junior World Champions



by JOVICA ILIC

Anastasia Potapova and Miomir Kecmanovic are 2016 ITF Junior World Champions

Orange Bowl, that was concluded last weekend, marked the end of 2016 ITF junior season, and we have the year-end number 1 players in both boys and girls categories. World champions for this season are 15-year-old Russian Anastasia Potapova ad 17-year-old Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, as both stayed on the junior circuit until the end, creating a solid gap to their rivals. Super talented Potapova, who will turn 16 only at the end of March, played her first full season on the ITF junior Tour and already proved her class, reaching the quarter-final at all 4 Majors, winning the title at Wimbledon.

Anastasia played 12 tournaments in 2016 (in both singles and doubles, of course), claiming the title in 3 singles and 2 doubles events, with many other latter stages reached, which allowed her to gather some valuable points that produced her into a champion in the end.

Anastasia unveiled the season with the quarter-final results at AGL Loy Yang Traralgon Junior International and Australian Open Junior Championships, before reaching two semi-finals at Trofeo Juan Carlos Ferrero. She made another semi-final in singles of the prestige 57° Trofeo Bonfiglio but went all the way in doubles with compatriot Olesya Pervushina for her first title of the season.

At Roland Garros, Potapova once again reached the last 4 in singles, and this time she and Pervushina lost in the doubles final. Russian was the player to beat during the grass season, winning Grade 1 Nike Junior International Roehampton and Wimbledon in singles, with semi-final and final in doubles as well, again with Pervushina.

American swing didn't go according to the plans, but Anastasia was back on the winning ways at Osaka Mayor's Cup, where she won the singles crown and played in the doubles final too. A very successful season was ended at Orange Bowl, losing to Kaja Juvan in the singles final but claiming the doubles trophy with Olga Danilovic.

Potapova is the first player from Russia who claimed this ITF honor since Irina Khromacheva in 2011, and it will be interesting to follow her progress in 2017, as she will concentrate on the pro events.
Just like Potapova, Belgrade native Kecmanovic took this junior season very seriously, playing it from start to finish and earning the standout status with a great last few tournaments.

Miomir took participation in 15 junior events, which is far more than Stefanos Tistsipas or Felix Auger-Aliassime, who didn't play after the US Open, concentrating on their pro activities. Together with Denis Shapovalov, Casper Ruud, and Alex De Minaur, those two players decided to drop junior events and build their pro game on Futures and Challengers, leaving Kecmanovic pretty much without any rivals in the last few months of the junior season, which Serb grabbed by both hands! Since Prince George’s County International Hard Court Junior Tennis Championships, Kecmanovic won 36 out of the last 39 singles matches to end the season in style, adding 4 singles and 2 doubles titles to his tally.

Kecmanovic won the Orange Bowl in 2015 but he couldn't continue in the same rhythm in the first half of 2016, with only one semi-final in singles before the late August, scored at first event he played in Traralgon in January! Nevertheless, he was the man to beat after that loss to Auger-Aliassime in the final of the US Open, being victorious at the Abierto Juvenil Mexicano, Eddie Herr, and Orange Bowl, where he defended his title from 12 months ago.

Thus, Miomir became only the 3rd player to win back-to-back Orange Bowl crowns and the first since Dominic Thiem in 2011 who joined two big American events at the end of the season. Kecmanovic trains at IMG Academy, and he will make a bigger step towards the professional tennis in 2017, and Tennis World USA will be there to follow both him and Potapova, as they will have a lot to show, no doubt about that.

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Anastasia Potapova Miomir Kecmanovic Irina Khromacheva