Elsa Jacquemot and Harold Mayot, both from France, are named as the year-end Junior World No 1 girl and boy by the ITF and are the first to be recognised in the ‘Class of 2020’, which celebrates a range of players who have had a successful year progressing along the ITF player pathway, and beyond.
This year was special for me as it was my last year playing Juniors. My goals were to win a Grand Slam and to finish the year No 1 in the world... I will keep great memories of my junior years, I had some great experiences especially playing in the four Grand Slams and I’m sure this will help me a lot when I will go back there to play in the pros. Harold Mayot
Now in its second year, this year’s ITF ‘Class of’ series recognises players who have been in outstanding form across the junior and professional games this season, while the inaugural edition, the Class of 2019, focused on 8 young players who had made significant steps towards establishing themselves in the professional game.
Among those featured last year were Coco Gauff of USA and Jannik Sinner of Italy, both of whom have continued their progress and are now ranked comfortably within the world’s Top 100.
Other names from the 2019 list include Argentina’s Thiago Agustin Tirante, who won his first professional singles title on the ITF World Tennis Tour this season, and Denmark’s Clara Tauson, who won two professional singles titles this year and now sits just outside the world’s Top 150.
Jacquemot and Mayot will both aim to emulate those successes as they leave the junior game behind and seek to make their marks on the professional game.
The French duo, who have both delivered junior Grand Slam victories for France this season, were confirmed as the year-end No 1 players in the ITF World Tennis Tour junior rankings following the conclusion of the Grade A Orange Bowl in Plantation, Florida on Sunday.
More players will be named in the Class of 2020 over the coming days, with their names to be revealed on itftennis.com and across ITF social media channels.
In October, Jacquemot became the first French player to win the girls’ singles title at Roland Garros since Kristina Mladenovic in 2009, with the 17-year-old recovering from a set down to defeat Russia’s Alina Charaeva in an absorbing final.
“It’s just amazing. I don’t think I have realised what I have achieved yet,” said Jacquemot, who had never previously gone beyond the quarter-finals at a Junior Grand Slam. “I am super happy and want to savour this moment.
“This win is a bonus for the future and hopefully winning here will help me, but the road is long and there is a long way to go in my career. For the moment, I will continue to savour it.”
She followed up with victory in her next event, the Grade 1 Trofeo Juan Carlos Ferrero in Villena, Spain, defeating her main rival for the year-end No 1 ranking, Victoria Jiminez Kasintseva, in the final, and then confirmed her place as year-end No 1 after a semi-final finish at the Orange Bowl last week.
Jacquemot also made her Tour-level debut this year, competing as a wild card in the women’s singles at both the WTA International event in Lyon and at Roland Garros.
On the ITF World Tennis Tour, her best result was reaching the quarter-finals at W25 Grenoble in February, while she also put in strong performances following the Tour’s resumption in August, reaching the second round as a qualifier at both W60+H Saint-Malo and W80 Cagnes-sur-Mer in September.
Mayot has long been one of the brightest prospects in the junior game, and was a member of the French team that finished runners-up at the 2018 Junior Davis Cup Finals and reached the final at the 2019 ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Finals in Chengdu.
“This year was special for me as it was my last year playing Juniors,” Mayot, who finished as the runner-up at the 2019 ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Finals in Chengdu, told itftennis.com.
“My goals were to win a Grand Slam and to finish the year No 1 in the world, and I am very happy I made it after winning the Australian Open and securing the No 1 spot.
“I will keep great memories of my junior years, I had some great experiences especially playing in the four Grand Slams and I’m sure this will help me a lot when I will go back there to play in the pros.”
He began the 2020 season by making his debut at ATP Challenger-level, impressing in a third-round finish at the Noumea Challenger and a quarter-final finish at the Bendigo Challenger.
He continued his good form at the Australian Open, where, as top seed, he defeated Arthur Cazaux in an all-French boys’ singles final to become the first French player to win a junior singles title at Melbourne Park since Alexandre Sidorenko in 2006.
Another Challenger quarter-final appearance followed at the end of February, as he made the last eight at the Pau Challenger.
Since the Tour resumed in August, he has reached the semi-finals at M15 Caslano and made his Grand Slam men’s singles debut, falling to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in three tight sets in the first round at Roland Garros.
ITF President David Haggerty said: “Moving from junior tennis to the professional levels is a challenging time in a young tennis player’s career, but Elsa Jacquemot and Harold Mayot have put themselves in the perfect position to be competitive on the ITF World Tennis Tour next year.
“Our Class of 2020 series recognises some outstanding talents who we feel have made great progress in the last 12 months.
“I would like to congratulate all of the players who have been named in our Class of 2020, and wish them the best of luck for the 2021 season and beyond.”
Pierre Cherret, National Technical Director at the Fédération Française de Tennis, said: “I would like to congratulate Elsa Jacquemot and Harold Mayot for these achievements, rewards their magnificent seasons.
“This double constitutes an exceptional performance for French tennis.
“After Clara Burel in 2018 and Diane Parry in 2019, we have the rare privilege of having a Frenchwoman at the top of the junior world rankings for the third year in a row.
“The results obtained in recent years bode very well for the future of French tennis.”
The list of future Grand Slam champions, Top 10 heavyweights and emerging contenders on their respective Tours to have progressed through the ITF player pathway after finishing as a year-end Junior No 1 is extensive.
Jacquemot and Mayot are the latest names to be added to that esteemed group and follow the likes of Belinda Bencic, Taylor Fritz, Kristina Mladenovic and Andrey Rublev, who all achieved the feat in recent years.
Finishing top of the junior pile is no guarantee of future success, however, although the year-end No 1 accolade is a significant feather in the cap for two aspiring players with big ambitions to mix it within the professional ranks.