Fort Lauderdale | 14-year old Brit lands Orange Bowl U18s title

14-year-old Hannah Klugman became the first British player to win the prestigious U18 Orange Bowl girls’ singles title in Florida last weekend, after having finished as the runner-up last year in the U14 event, and solidifying her place among the sport’s most promising future prospects.

It's an amazing feeling. I played U14s last year and made the final. I was really gutted I didn't get the win, and obviously to get the win at U18s, it's incredible. This is still just part of the journey - a little step - but it's nice. Hannah Klugman

The young Brit closed out an impressive week by defeating USA’s Tyra Caterina Grant, 6-3 6-3, in the final, having upset top seed Laura Samsonova, the World’s No 1 junior from Czechia, 7-2 in a third set tiebreak, and then coming back from a set and 3-1 down to get past the No 4 seed, American Iva Jovic, in the quarter-finals and semi-finals respectively.

In the final she displayed an impressive variety in her game, breaking early and holding on to comfortably take the first set.

When she moved ahead 3-0 up in the second, it all looked to be a mere formality, but Grant upped her performance to level at 3-3, thanks to an inopportune double-fault, and it seemed the exertions of the week might be catching up with Klugman.

She remained admirably calm, though, coming through a tight game to lead 4-3, which seemed to break Grant’s spirit, who became increasingly frustrated in the windy conditions.

Klugman’s win is the most significant performance by a British junior since Laura Robson landed the Wimbledon girls’ title at the same age in 2008.

“It’s an amazing feeling,” said Klugman after lifting the Orange Bowl title. “I played U14s last year and made the final. I was really gutted I didn’t get the win, and obviously to get the win at U18s, it’s incredible.

“This is still just part of the journey – a little step – but it’s nice. I was walking past the poster with all the great players who have won and I saw Coco Gauff. It’s good that I can be on that board. It doesn’t mean anything in the big picture, but hopefully I can make it.”

Klugman, who is from Wimbledon, has already started to make her mark in the women’s game, elevating her ranking inside the WTA Top 700.

Having seen Grant peg her back from 3-0 down in the second set, Klugman again showed her maturity amid blustery conditions to turn things back in her favour, finishing with a run of 3 games in a row.

“I’ve been so strong on court,” she said. “I was a match point down in one of my matches and also stepping up on those big points.

“I think I’m really taking on the shots, being aggressive. But for sure it’s my mentality, staying calm out there.”

The Orange Bowl, played on green clay, ranks as one of the biggest international competitions in junior tennis alongside the Grand Slams, and previous winners of the girl’s event include Gauff, Bianca Andreescu, Sofia Kenin, Caroline Wozniacki and Chris Evert, all of whom have gone on to claim Majors.

Hannah Klugman reached the quarter-finals of the girls singles at the US Open

© Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Klugman is supported by the LTA’s Men’s & Women’s Programme and currently trains at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton with her coach, Ben Haran.

The schoolgirl’s incredible season came to an end with this win, having already advanced to her maiden junior Grand Slam quarter-final at the US Open, and placing second in the Wimbledon girls’ doubles alongside her fellow countrywoman Isabelle Lacy.

Klugman, a student at Wimbledon High School, also works out at Reeds Tennis School in Cobham with Haran.

“I’ve been working with Ben Haran since I was about nine years old,” she told Sky Sports during the junior US Open. “Hopefully he has many more years to come.

“He’s a great coach and we’ve got a great relationship with each other, and I also have Laura Deigman as my fitness coach with me as well.”

Klugman has developed significantly, both physically and in terms of her perception of her potential on the court.

Sayaka Ishii, the No 7 seed at the time, beat her in the 3rd-round at Wimbledon, but, in New York, she advanced one step farther and overcame the Japanese to reach the quarter-finals.

“I think I played a lot more cleverly – changing it up, slicing, different variation of height and I think that’s what got me the win,” she said at the time.

She has steadily improved in the Grand Slams this season in terms of her ability to attack her opponent and get herself out of tight situations with her potent serve.

“I’m starting to go deeper into the junior Grand Slams, my game’s developing as well,” Klugman said. “Last year I was struggling a bit more with the junior Grand Slams – it was quite a lot for me. I was quite young but now I’ve got to grips with it and hopefully I can go far.”

Klugman, who turns 15 in February, is currently ranked as the No 15 junior women’s player.

She is still heavily restricted in the number of senior events she is allowed to play, but, in October, she reached the quarter-finals of the $100,000 WTA event in Shrewsbury while on half-term.



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