Raise the Alame: Future star upsets rivals

OFF the back of a superb Australian Open Junior Girls singles final appearance by Emerson Jones, another future star caught the eye this week. Sydney 14-year-old Renee Alame – the 13th seed at the Brisbane J100 event – toppled far more experienced rivals en route to a memorable title over compatriot, Alana Subasic.

Brisbane J100 [13] Renee Alame (AUS) defeated [7] Alana Subasic (AUS) 6-2 6-7 7-5

Both Sydneysiders, Alame – who does not turn 15 until May – worked hard to outlast her 16-year-old opponent in three sets, 6-2 2-6 7-5 in an epic contest. The victory was Alame’s second of her ITF Junior career, having also won a J30 in Selangor last year and is ranked just inside the top 400.

In a promising sign for the future of Australian tennis, Subasic – who was coming off a thrilling three-set upset of top seed I Wen Wan in the semi-final – was favoured for the event as seventh seed. However, Alame’s semi-final – a 6-0 6-3 rout of 15th seed, China’s Peien Deng – provided the younger Aussie with a bigger rest, having overcome the United States’ Sabrina Lin, an American seeded ninth at the event.

Despite Australia boasting five of the eight quarter finalists, just two Aussies made it through to the final four, and then progressed through to the final after defeating their respective Asian opponents in the semi-final. Ava Beck – courageously fell to the top seed – is another promising Australian coming off a couple of title in 2023 at the J30 level.

American Jagger Leach took out the Brisbane J100 as strong favourite. Picture credit: Manuel Queimadelos

Leach lives up to top seed billing

Brisbane J100 | [1] Jagger Leach (USA) defeated [11] Brendan Loh (AUS) 6-3 7-5

TOP seed Jagger Leach has fulfilled his top ranked billing at the J100 Brisbane event, taking out the title without dropping a set along the way. The American – who is the son of Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport – crushed most of his opponents, with only finalist Brendan Loh providing serious resistance.

Leach, who had not dropped more than four games in a set, had to battle hard against the Australian 11th seed, winning 6-3 7-5 in a competitive match. Leach, who will bounce back to enter the top 50 for the first time, added his first title of 2024 to go with his huge 2023 season. Last year, Leach racked up four titles including two J100’s, though three of his four trophies came early in New Zealand, before notching up a fourth in San Jose.

The American teenager was far too good for fourth seed Cruz Hewitt – son of Lleyton – winning 6-1 6-4 in the semi-final, after accounting for fifth seed Ty Host 6-4 6-1 in what was a tough draw for the top ranked player.


J300 Barranquilla

Vandromme blitz Frodin en route to sixth title

Belgian 16-year-old Jeline Vandromme produced an unforgettable performance in the final of the J300 Barranquilla event to take out the title, the sixth of her junior career. Ranked 93rd in the world, Vandromme proved too good for 12th seeded American Thea Frodin rattling off 12 of the 14 games to win, 6-0 6-2 in the decider.

The semi-final results were quite the opposite with Vandromme fighting past third seeded American Claire An in a 3-6 6-4 6-1 come-from-behind win. Frodin on the other hand made light work of Slovakian 11th seed Mia Pohankova. In what was a tournament filled with upsets, Vandromme also took the scalp of second seeded American Christasha McNeil in straight sets, while top seed Kaitlyn Rolls bowed out in the Round of 32, her first match of the tournament.

Mayew upsets top seed

Ian Mayew earned a special exemption to play in the J300 event in Barranquilla, but it did not stop the American from taking home the title – his second of the year already – convincingly. Ranked 93rd in the world, Mayew has started 2024 on fire, winning at San Jose and now Barranquilla. He earned the special exemption after winning the Costa Rica event coming from qualifying, and now has a 14-0 record in 2024.

Mayew knocked off top seed, South Korea’s Hoyoung Roh – the world number 38 – in straight sets, 6-2 6-3 in a memorable final. Mayew only dropped one set for the entire tournament, and ended the run of 12th seed Kase Schinnerer in the semi-finals after the fellow American has toppled highly toured second seed and compatriot, Cooper Woestendick who was coming off a doubles title at the Australian Open.

J100 Manacor

Honda revs at full power to collect J100 title

Japanese top seed Naoya Honda proved the clear best player in the J100 Manacor tournament, storming past his opponents without dropping a set. He only was forced into one tiebreaker – in the quarter finals – with an otherwise comprehensive run that saw him defeat French third seed Nathan Trouve in straight sets, 6-2 6-4.

The title was the world 107’s fifth of his career, and the second J100 trophy for him, with Honda also collecting one at Mohammedia last year on the clay, his only title of 2023. He is coming off a couple of first round losses at big tournaments in December, and started the year off right on the Spanish hardcourts.

Skoog slays rivals in remarkable run

Swedish qualifier Isabel Skoog produced the perfect tournament in Spain as the 15-year-old upstaged higher ranked rivals to collect her first trophy in two years. Only having two J5 titles to her name back in 2022, the J100 is by far her best result, with the world number 731 coming off an even 13-12 win-loss record last season to have already notched up 11 wins for only two losses in 2024.

Skoog defeated second seed Loes Ebeling Koning, with the Dutchwoman falling in a tight three sets, 6-3 3-6 6-1. Funnily enough, the top ranked player at the event – fellow Swede Bella Bergkvist Larsson – lost to unseeded Belarusian Polina Kuharenko in the quarter finals 7-5 6-4, before Skoog exacted revenge for her compatriot with a 6-3 6-3 semi-finals win over Kuharenko.

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