Aussie Joint notches up another ITF title

AUSTRALIAN teenager Maya Joint continues to enjoy a strong ITF Tour season, winning her second title in four tournaments across the past month. Taking home the trophy in her home nation at Burnie last month, Joint doubled up with a victory in the Dominican Republic the past week.

The 14th seed at the event only dropped two sets across her five wins, knocking off three top 10 seeds along the way to rise up to a career-high 289th in the world. In the final Joint took on Gao Xinyu an experienced 13-title ITF Tour winner, and got the job done with a devastating final set, 6-4 2-6 6-1.

Joint’s consistency on first serve was a worry, only collecting 40 per cent of her points off a 64 per cent clip, but she was far better on her second, winning a massive 68 per cent of her second serve points. In a topsy-turvy match, Joint’s ability to capitalise on that and break 11 times to nine during the game helped her secure the victory.

Neither player is a dominant serve, combining for four aces and five double faults, but Joint’s all-round game that has splashes of power and brilliance came to the fore. She is capable to producing some clever winners, and approaching when needed to finish points. The result meant the Australian has won 12 of her past 14 matches, backing up a quarter finals appearance in the same nation the week before.

The title enabled Joint to move up 35 spots into the Top 300 for the first time in her career, and is the 15th highest Australian in the world. She is also the seventh highest ranked player born in 2006 or later, with the Michigan-born talent switching allegiances to the green and gold last year, which was the birthplace of her father.

However she has also committed to the University of Texas in August where she will spend her time playing college tennis, while mixing her time on the professional circuit. So far Joint’s two ITF Tour titles before turning 18 has her equal third on the list of Australians to do so, with former world number one Ash Barty‘s four the clubhouse leader, while active players Destanee Aiava and Taylah Preston – who have both surpassed that age bracket won three.

Having won 18 matches from her 23 starts on the ITF and WTA Tours this season, Joint told Tennis Australia that playing with “no pressure” helps her maximise her potential.

“I’m just trying to play my game,” Joint said. “I just go out there and see what I can do.”

The Australian is also ranked inside the top 30 juniors in the world, reaching a career-high 20th in January following some impressive performances at the Australian Open, including taking a set off Ukrainian Dayana Yastremska in the final round of senior qualifying. Yastremska would go on to make the semi-finals at Melbourne Park.

“I’ve improved a lot in the past few months,” Joint said. “Since I’ve come to Australia, it’s just been so good. Everything in my game has gotten better.

“Training with some of the top Australian women’s players in Brisbane has been amazing. I didn’t have those opportunities back in Michigan.”

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