Denis Shapovalov and Vanessa Wong, both from Ontario, have been crowned national champions thanks to victories in two compelling U18 Rogers Indoor Junior National Championships finals held at Mayfair Parkway in Markham, Ont. on Saturday.
No. 1 seed Wong defeated fellow Ontarian and No. 5 seed Maria Patrascu 7-6(6), 6-1 in a see-saw match that had Wong come back from 2-5 down in the first set and save a set point in the tiebreaker. Once she took the one-set advantage though, Wong was the stronger player. She broke twice in reeling off the first three games of the second set and ultimately cruised to the trophy.
“I tried to put the score aside and focus on each point and set up my points up well,” Wong said of her comeback in the first set. “In the beginning I was spraying my shots and I didn’t really get into a rhythm. So I tried to get myself into the match and get into a groove. And when it became closer, she got a little tight and that’s when the points were really close and they were crucial points.”
The 16-year-old, currently ranked No. 129 on the ITF junior world rankings, now has seven national championships, including a singles title at each level. She previously won the U12 indoors and U14 outdoors in 2011, and U16 outdoors in 2013. She says her current success at the national level will help propel her forward as her season progresses.
“It feels great because I was having a rough start to the year, I wasn’t playing super well,” she said. “Playing these tournaments where the girls are at about my level, it’s different and I really had to step up my game to pull through. Before I had difficulty playing tight matches with nerves, but this is something I can move on with, and I can think back on it and put myself in this situation. So it’s really good and it was a really important tournament for me.”
In the boys’ final, No. 3 seed Shapovalov ousted top seed and two-time defending indoor champion Tabilo 6-3, 7-5. The 15-year-old, who will be turning 16 on April 15, broke early to take a 3-1 lead and held on to take the opening set. The two young athletes, who were doubles partners this week and practiced with each other earlier in the day, were then even in the second set until the 5-5 mark. That’s when Shapovalov earned the deciding service break and held on for the victory.
“I think I started off really well,” Shapovalov said. “I don’t think Alejandro played his best match today. He tried to turn it around in the second where I got a little bit tight. But as the match progressed I started to play better again and I managed to close it out at the end.”
The victory gives Shapovalov his first national title at any age group. Besides ousting 17-year-old Tabilo, a 12-time national champion and the top-ranked junior in Canada at world No. 29, Shapovalov also defeated No. 2 seed and six-time national champion David Volfson in a three-set semifinal.
“It feels incredible,” said Shapovalov, who is currently the second-highest ranked Canadian junior boy in the world at No. 83. “All the work that my coach and parents have done for me has finally paid off. I really feel like I’m going in the right footsteps and this is definitely going to bring me confidence going into my next tournaments. Tabilo and Volfson are really great players so that brings my confidence up to beat any other player now.”
Shapovalov and Wong join an impressive list of recent past winners at the U18 Rogers Indoor Junior National Championships, including Vasek Pospisil (2007), Gabriela Dabrowski (2007), Milos Raonic (2008), Eugenie Bouchard (2009), Filip Peliwo (2011), and Francoise Abanda (2011).
For the complete final draws and results, please click here.