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Bolton | Could Vandorpe be Belgium’s next top tennis talent?

He’s a 2018 Junior Masters Champion, won the singles title at Preston last week and is now into the semi-finals of Bolton Indoor.

It’s safe to say that Jef Vandorpe has had a high-flying season so far this year.

The 16-year-old from Belgium can also boast not only being World number one in the junior rankings but also at number 22 in the men’s open division he’s knocking on the door of the top 20.

I’m just going to try and focus on my game and every point and being the best I can be in the semi-finals Jef Vandorpe

His quarter-final win over Daniel Caversachi in straight sets 6-1, 6-2, just like many of his matches here already this week, have really showcased the potential this teenager has to take the tennis world by storm.

On his win he said: “I feel really happy. It’s never easy against him (Caversachi)- he’s a very persistent player, he’s the kind of player who will fight until the last point has been played and he’s also very fast so he gets to a lot of balls.”

And today will see him take on compatriot Joachim Gerard in the semi-finals after Gerard’s straight sets quarter-final victory over Ezequiel Casco 6-0, 6-2, guaranteeing that one of Belgium’s top tennis players will feature on finals day.

Vandorpe said: “It’s nice to be playing Jo because he’s somebody I’ve learned a lot from.

“We’ve just won our doubles quarter-final here as well together and I always learn a lot when I play doubles with him too.

“He’s also the only player who is ranked above me in my country at the minute so it’s always good to play against him to see what difference there is still is in level between us and learn from that.

“I’m just going to try and focus on my game and every point and being the best I can be in the semi-finals.”

 Joachim Gerard

He will meet compatriot Joachim Gerard in the semi-finals

© Anna Vasalaki

Cool, calm and collected

One of the things that has been noticeable watching Vandorpe on court this week has been his ability to remain calm under pressure.

He has this brilliant skill, whoever he is playing, to go into a match situation confident in his own game never allowing his opponent to force their game upon him.

And whilst he is no doubt feeling the pressure on the inside and putting in an incredible amount of effort to get the win he never shows it – to those watching on every shot really does look effortless and it appears that nothing will phase him.

Vandorpe said: “I think it’s because I’ve been playing since I was very young, it feels natural you know.

“When I was very young, like in the first few years, I could get a little bit angry on court when things weren’t going well but now I’ve learned how to stay calm.”

Seeing the results

Vandorpe has had a, as he would describe it, “tough winter training period” but is happy with the outcomes he is now seeing as a result.

He said: “I wanted to see results in my tennis that show I’m improving that’s the main thing I focused on – improving my game, improving my strength – and I’m very happy to see that it is.”

Whilst he says that the main focus wasn’t on winning matches, those have come thick and fast during the 2018 season, starting being crowned both singles and doubles, alongside Britain’s Ruairi Logan, champion at the Junior Masters in January.

Vandorpe said: “It was really good. I went in with the same idea as I’ve had here – seeing how much I’ve improved and applying everything from training in matches – and it worked out so I’m happy with that.”

A new doubles power partnership?

Vandorpe has also reached the semi-finals of the doubles competition here with Belgian number one Gerard by his side.

Watching their match yesterday their games both seem to compliment each other.

Both are confident in the style of game they play and have learned how to use each others strengths when they combine and they communicate well with each other

All the signs then that in the future these two could join Britain’s Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid and France’s Stephane Houdet and Nicolas Peifer as a country power partnership in men’s doubles.

Vandorpe said: “I hope so and it’s nice if I can continue playing with Jo sometimes because we’ve won some good doubles matches together.

“When you look at the top now you have two big countries in men’s doubles and it would be great if we could join them up there.”



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