With Junior Roland Garros under way, we profile four of the clay-court contenders competing in Paris this week.
The latest American youngster to show some serious game on clay, Alexa Noel heads to Roland Garros having won the prestigious JA Milan title, joining Simona Halep and Sloane Stephens – last year’s women’s singles finalists in Paris – on the tournament’s honor roll. The 16-year-old proved her resilience in Italy with three comebacks from a set down en route the final, where she beat Burundi’s Sada Nahimana 6-2 6-4. Five of Noel’s six Grade 1 and Grade A singles titles have now come on the red stuff, coupled with her first hard-court triumph at J1 Barranquila in Colombia in January.
Fun fact: Noel is coached by four-time Grand Slam champion Hana Mandlikova, who won both the Milan and Roland Garros girls’ singles titles in 1978.
Having enjoyed his first taste of Grand Slam success by lifting the Australian Open boys’ doubles title in January, Jonas Forejtek is primed for a singles run in Paris.
Having made use of Junior Reserved places to cut his teeth on the ITF World Tennis Tour, the 18-year-old Czech is unbeaten in 12 matches since his return to the Junior circuit in May, claiming back-to-back titles at J1 Visar and JA Milan.
Forejtek fought back from a set down in the first two rounds, and as other seeds were scattered in Milan, he surged to the final without dropping another set, beating Argentina’s Thiago Agustin Tirante 6-3 6-4.
Can he make it three titles in a row, and follow in the footsteps of Australia’s Alexei Popyrin, who triumphed in Milan and Paris in 2017?
Fun fact: Forejtek was part of the Czech Republic’s 2017 Junior Davis Cup team that claimed the nation’s first title in 20 years.
Holger Vitus Nodskov Rune
Denmark’s highest-ranked male player on the Junior Circuit has broken into the ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Top 10 rankings presented by IMG Academy thanks to his performance on clay this year.
Rune won back-to-back singles titles on his favoured red dirt at J1 Beaulieu-sur-Mer and J1 Santa Croce which propelled him to No. 7 in the ITF World Tennis Tour Junior Rankings presented by IMG Academy.
The Dane couldn’t continue his fine form at the Grade A event in Milan, falling to Italy’s Filippo Moroni in the second round, but with an overall clay-court win-loss record this year of 18-4 – including 14 wins on the surface at Grade A or Grade 1 level – he is sure to be a force to be reckoned with at Roland Garros.
Fun fact: Rune’s best tennis memory is winning his first Davis Cup match against Egypt last year.
Maria Camila Osorio Serrano (COL)
Colombia’s Maria Camila Osorio Serrano is making her return to the junior ranks at Roland Garros for the first time since 2018, having made strides on the ITF World Tennis Tour and WTA Tour so far this season.
The 18-year-old, playing in Paris for the third time this week, ended 2018 with semi-final appearances at both the US Open Juniors and Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires and a place at the year-end ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu.
The 2019 season has seen Osorio Serrano make an instant impact on the professional scene, impressing on her Fed Cup debut for Colombia in February, before reaching quarter-final run at the Claro Open Colsanitas in Bogota in April – both on clay, her favourite surface.
Fun fact: Osorio Serrano is coached by compatriot and former ATP world No. 48 Alejandro Falla, who retired in 2018.