Shintaro Mochizuki practiced on a grass court for the first time at J1 Nottingham in June, only to be crowned champion without dropping a set within a matter of days. The 16-year-old’s incredible grass-court swing didn’t stop there – less than a month later, the youngster was crowned Boys’ Singles champion at Wimbledon, beating Spain’s Carlos Gimeno Valero in the final.
Mochizuki’s grass-court prowess secured him top spot of the ITF Junior World Rankings, and as the world of tennis switches its attention to the hard-court season, he should not be considered a one-surface wonder.
The Japanese teenager, who first picked up a racket aged three, launched his 2019 season with a string of hard-court successes as he fired his way to both the singles and doubles titles at J1 San Jose in Costa Rica.
Wimbledon was only Mochizuki’s second junior Grand Slam appearance, and no doubt the IMG Academy protégé will be looking to maintain his fine run of form at the US Open and make a statement in the country where he has trained for the last four years.
Emilio Nava (USA)
One player who will be relishing the return to hard courts is Emilio Nava. The American has an impressive record at the hard-court junior Grand Slams, reaching the final of both the boys’ singles and doubles at the 2019 Australian Open, and returns to the US Open after reaching the boys’ doubles final via some thrilling three set performances alongside compatriot Axel Nevfe.
It could be argued that performing on the big stage is part of the Nava family DNA: Emilio’s parents are both former Olympians while his cousin Ernesto Escobedo has been ranked as high as No.67 on the ATP Tour.
Nava, 17, has been gathering experience on the ITF World Tennis Tour circuit recently and made his ATP main draw debut at the 2019 Abierto Mexicano Telcel in Acapulco as a wild card. As he prepares to leave the junior ranks behind at the end of 2019, Nava will be looking for a strong performance at his home Grand Slam.
Emma Navarro (USA)
Only a handful of players are lucky enough to play a Grand Slam event in their home town – but that’s the prospect awaiting Emma Navarro in September.
The New Yorker, who is currently No.4 in the ITF Junior World Rankings, lost in the opening round of the girls’ singles at the 2018 US Open, falling in straight sets to eventual champion Xiyu Wang of China. Since then, however, she has cemented herself as a serious contender on all surfaces.
In March, Navarro won both the singles and doubles titles at JB1 Indian Wells, as well as collecting a singles title in Montreal and reaching the doubles final at the Australian Open. And in recent months she proven her ability to compete on the biggest stage, reaching the girls’ singles finals at Roland Garros before reaching the singles semi-finals and doubles quarter-finals at Wimbledon in July.
Linda Fruhvirtova (CZE)
Having recently turned 14 years old, Linda Fruhvirtova made her debut at Wimbledon this year, making her the youngest player competing at the All England Club in 2019.
The Czech youngster rose to the cusp of the top 20 in the ITF Junior World Rankings after downing second seed Maria Camila Osorio Serrano before reaching the Round of 16 at The Championships, before eventually falling in three sets against Indonesia’s Priska Madelyn Nugroho.
And it hasn’t just been on grass that Fruhvirtova has shone this year. She has collected titles on clay, hard and carpet in 2019, and made her ITF World Tennis Tour debut at W15 Budapest, where she won her first-round match.
Fruhvirtova’s most successful hard-court campaign of 2019 came at J1 Sarawak in Malaysia where she captured both the singles and doubles titles. With some junior Grand Slam experience under her belt, she has firmly established herself as one to watch at Flushing Meadows.