Grand Slam titles, an Orange Bowl triumph & World Team Cup gold – looking back at a historic year in British junior tennis
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2023 has been a historic year for British junior tennis. From Grand Slams and prestigious junior events such as Les Petit As and the Orange Bowl, to team competitions like the World Team Cup, Billie Jean King Cup and Davis Cup – the British players have had a season to remember with titles across the board.
Great Britain has finished the season with a total of 11 players ranked inside the junior top 100 (five boys and six girls) and there are many achievements to show for it.
Looking back at a year of major highs, here’s a breakdown of some of the biggest highlights in British junior tennis for 2023.
Searle’s heroics headline Wimbledon success
Where else to start than SW19 where 17-year-old Henry Searle etched his name in the history books in becoming Great Britain’s first boys’ singles champion since Stanley Matthew back in 1962.
Searle – who is supported by LTA National Academy in Loughborough – enjoyed a dream run at The Championships, winning the title without dropping a set and defeating three players ranked inside the world’s top 10, including a 6-4, 6-4 win over Yaroslav Demin in the final.
“It’s amazing to play on No.1 Court in front of such a special crowd,” Searle said after the biggest win of his career to date. “It’s a special feeling and it’s not going to come too often so I’m going to try and enjoy it.”
The result saw him rise to a career-high junior world No.4 having also made the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.
Staying at Wimbledon and the finals weekend, we also saw British girls doubles duo Hannah Klugman and Isabelle Lacy finish as runners-up. This was the first time that an all-British girls team has reached the Junior Wimbledon final.
Like Searle, the unseeded Brits made the final without losing a set but would eventually lose out to Laura Samsonova and Alena Kovackova 6-4, 7-5.
In the U14 draws, Great Britain had another boys’ singles champion in Mark Ceban. Having gone undefeated in his round-robin group, Ceban finished the week with wins over Brazil’s Luis Queiroz Miguel in the semis and Slovenia’s Svit Suljic in the final to lift the title.
Ward & Johns lift US Open titles; Stoiber makes Australian Open semis
There was more Grand Slam success to come for Britain’s juniors across the season – especially at Flushing Meadows where wheelchair stars Dahnon Ward and Joshua Johns won the junior US Open titles.
In only the second edition of the junior event in New York, Ward managed to retain his doubles title alongside compatriot Johns and claim his first junior singles title at a major thanks to a 6-4, 6-3 win over top seed and junior world No.2 Francesco Felici in the final.
"I’m pretty pleased to get the double this year," said Ward after their doubles victory. "I can’t put into words the emotions I was feeling when I found out we were playing the finals on Louis Armstrong and winning both finals on such a big court made it special."
Throughout 2023 there have been other significant results for the juniors at the Slams as well. Back in January, Ranah Stoiber made her way to the semi-finals of the Australian Open before getting through to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, Mika Stojsavljevic also reached quarter-finals at SW19, while Klugman progressed to the final eight at the US Open.
Klugman breaks new ground in Florida
The most recent triumph of the season came from 14-year-old Klugman, who became the first British player to win the U18 girls singles at the world-renowned Orange Bowl.
Likened to the Grand Slams in the junior game, the Orange Bowl has a rich history of champions, including the likes of Coco Gauff, Caroline Wozniacki and Chris Evert.
Having finished runner-up in the U14 event last year, Klugman put in an impressive display in Florida to beat USA’s Tyra Caterina Grant in the final 6-3, 6-3. The win saw her rise to junior world No.9.
Klugman has been supported by our Men’s & Women’s Programme for a number of years and currently trains at the National Tennis Centre in Roehampton with her coach, Ben Haran.
Ceban & Johns crowned champions in Tarbes
Back in January this year, the then 13-year-old Ceban became the second British player to win the prestigious Les Petit As junior event in Tarbes, France.
The competition sees the world’s best players under the age of 14 come together for one of the biggest tournaments in the junior calendar. Rafael Nadal, Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters are among just a few of the former world No.1s and Grand Slam champions to lift the title.
Ceban is a scholar on our National Age Group Programme and was supported throughout the week by LTA National Coach, Richard Plews and the rest of the team.
“It was a really strong end to the week for Mark”, said Plews. “His opponent, while Lebanese, will actually play for France this year, so he had the crowd right behind him but Mark just looked really comfortable and managed himself well.”
There was also wheelchair success for Britain’s Johns, who finished as doubles champion and singles runner-up in the Junior Masters event in Tarbes.
Johns and Austria’s Maximillian Taucher defeated Gonzalo Lazarte and Benjamin Wenzel 6-0, 6-1 to claim the title.
GB win World Team Cup & finish third at Billie Jean King Cup
What a year it’s been for Great Britain’s junior teams as well – clinching gold at the World Team Cup, coming third in the Billie Jean King Cup Juniors by Gainbridge Finals and grasping sixth place at the Davis Cup Finals Juniors.
The World Team Cup squad – led by Johns, Ruben Harris and Oliver Cox – overcame a strong USA team with a 2-1 win in the final, emulating the men’s team success as Great Britain won gold in two of the four events.
Klugman, Mimi Xu and Hephzibah Oluwadare spearheaded a standout week at the Billie Jean King Cup Juniors Finals in finishing third out of 16 nations – GB’s best result in the competition for 15 years.
The Brits reached the semi-final at the Junior World Cup of tennis where they lost out to eventual champions Czech Republic, before defeating Spain 2-0 in the third/fourth place play-off.
“It's been a fantastic team effort to reach the semis, especially on clay,” said Team Captain and LTA Women’s National Coach Katie O’Brien. “We've had a great week on and off the court and it’s fantastic to finish third with a win over Spain.
“Regardless of the outcome, the girls will have taken so much from this week and am sure will all aspire to represent in the Billie Jean King Cup itself one day.”
The Lexus GB Davis Cup Juniors squad reached the quarter-finals before eventually ending the week in sixth place. The team – made up of Oliver Bonding, Ceban and Zechariah Hamrouni – just lost out to the Netherlands in the fifth/sixth place play-off after a strong showing in Cordoba.
Elsewhere, however, the Great Britain 14U boys’ team were crowned champions at the Tennis Europe Winter Cup for the first time in 11 years back in February. Ceban, Rhys Lawlor and Pavana Nrshinga took the Brits to the title with a comfortable 2-0 win over second seeds Poland in the final.
The 16U girls’ team – including Stojsavljevic, Allegra Korpanec Davies and Abby Kelliher – also finished runners-up in the Winter Cup, after the team narrowly missed out on the silverware in a 2-1 loss to Czech Republic.
Fast-forward to the August and Britain’s 12U girls’ side were runners-up in this year’s Summer Cup in Ajaccio, France. Megan Knight, Liv Zingg and Ingrid Dumitru finished top of Group B with wins over Czech Republic, France and Spain, before losing out to Israel 2-0 in the final.