Joint makes Aussie history with Burnie title

AUSSIE teenager Maya Joint became the youngest Australian to win an ITF W75 title over the weekend, with the 17-year-old saluting in a come-from-behind win over Japan’s Aoi Ito in Burnie. Joint, who punched well above her weight throughout the tournament – her second consecutive tournament at the venue – finished off strongly to win, 1-6 6-1 7-5.

“I was a bit frustrated in the beginning, but Aoi played really well,” Joint told Tennis Australia. “I had to figure out a lot of things.”

Joint came into the tournament ranked 446th in the world on the WTA Tour. Earning a wildcard to bypass qualifying, Joint crushed her opponents en route to the final, not dropping a set to face the 19-year-old Ito.

Joint took out fellow Australian Lizette Cabrera in the first round and trounced 21-year-old Thai eighth seed Mananchaya Sawangkaew in the Round of 16. Victories over Aussie Kaylah McPhee and Chinese fifth seed Sijia Wei followed, before Joint mean Ito in the decider.

Ito herself had to overcome a prestigious talent in the semi-finals, defeating fellow Japanese teenager Sara Saito in a come-from-behind 3-6 6-2 6-3 victory to reach the decider. She also defeated Brit Katie Swan in straight sets, as well as third seed Aussie Destanee Aiava in a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 Round of 16 win.

In the Burnie W75 final, both players had more than their fair share of changes, with Joint narrowly shading Ito in first serve points won (58 to 52 per cent), though the Aussie broke her opponent seven times to six, which was the difference in the end.

Joint’s six-game winning streak in the second set turned the tables on her opponent who had been on top in the opening set. Neither player is a dominant server, but both continued to grind away until Joint finally saluted with a critical break in the dying stages of the final.

“This year’s been really unbelievable,” Joint said. “I’m so grateful to get a wild card into this tournament. “I’m just trying to get my ranking up as much as possible.”

The W75 title saw Joint bolt up a whopping 113 places on the WTA Tour rankings to a career-high 333rd. Joint, who was born in Michigan, has committed to the University of Texas for 2024 and will represent the Longhorns.

Incredibly, Joint is now the seventh highest ranked 2006-born or younger player in the world, surpassing three other teenagers on her rise to her career-high ranking. Saito moved up 24 places into 244th to be the highest ranked non-European under the same parameters.

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