2018 Year in Review:
Gauff headlines junior success
Arthur Kapetanakis | December 10, 2018
As 2018 draws to a close, USTA.com is taking a look back at the Top 15 storylines, headlines and highlights from the year in American tennis. Now up, we spotlight the juniors who made a name for themselves in the past 12 months.
From start to finish in 2018, American juniors won major trophies and remained firmly entrenched at the top of the boys’ and girls’ circuits, with a combined 27 U.S. juniors in the Top 100 of the year-end ITF World Junior Rankings across both divisions. Coco Gauff (pictured above, right) led the way with six titles, winning three in singles, two in doubles, and the sixth in the Junior Fed Cup team competition. On the boys' side, Brandon Nakashima and Sebastian Korda starred.
The 14-year-old Gauff defeated compatriot Caty McNally (above, left) to win the French Open junior singles crown and later teamed with McNally to claim the US Open girls’ doubles title, winning an all-U.S. ADVERTISEMENT final against Hailey Baptiste and Dalayna Hewitt. Gauff rounded out a year to remember with a title in her native South Florida at the Orange Bowl, and she was also a singles champ at the Junior International Roehampton in Great Britain and a doubles champ at the Mundial Juvenil Yucatan in Mexico, with Hurricane Tyra Black. After her French Open title and a run to the junior Wimbledon singles quarterfinals, Gauff became the youngest-ever junior No. 1 within the current ranking system, which debuted in 2004.
In Junior Fed Cup play, she represented Team USA, along with Alexa Noel and Connie Ma, and notched singles and doubles (with Noel) victories to secure a 2-1 final victory against Ukraine.
McNally, who joins Gauff in the year-end Top 10, reached the junior Wimbledon singles quarterfinals and doubles final, with Whitney Osuigwe (who has since turned pro and won the USTA’s Australian Open Wild Card Challenge). The Cincinnati native also won the French Open and Easter Bowl doubles titles with Baptiste.
The American boys’ 2018 calendar was bookended by a pair of top-tier titles; Korda opened the year by claiming the Australian Open singles title, and Nakashima, who will close the year as the top-ranked American boy, capped his year by winning the ITF Junior Masters to rise to No. 5 in the world. Nakashima was also crowned champion at the USTA International Spring Championships (where Black won the girls' event) and at Roehampton. Korda, as a result of his Aussie Open triumph, reached the top spot in the ITF World Junior Rankings for the first time in late January.
At the 14-and-under level, Victor Lilov made history in January, becoming the ninth player, male or female, to win both the Les Petits As and Teen Tennis singles titles. Previous winners of Les Petits As, a prestigious event in Tarbes, France, include Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters.
Lilov was also a member of Team USA’s ITF World Junior Tennis team, which won its fifth 14-and-under title and first since 2012. He was joined by Bruno Kuzuhara, who scored singles and doubles victories in the final against host Czech Republic, and Evan Wen.
In the year-end ITF World Junior Rankings (18 and under), the U.S. placed nine girls in the Top 50 and 14 in the Top 100. Eight American boys are featured in the Top 50, with 13 in the Top 100. All four figures are the most of any nation.
For more American tennis highlights from 2018, be sure to check out our Year in Review page here.