Photo : Martin Sidorjak
We may only be a few weeks into 2024, but already Canadians on the junior tour are seeing success, especially in the Costa Rican city of San Jose.
There was also the first Grand Slam of the year, where one Canadian had a career-best performance.
Let’s catch up with the latest news from Canada’s juniors.
Rice Representing at Australian Open
Only one Canadian competed at the first junior Grand Slam of the year, that being 17-year-old Keegan Rice from Regina, SK.
Rice had his better result at the Australian Open in the doubles, where he and partner Roy Horovitz of the United States reached the quarter-finals. It was the first time in Rice’s career that he reached the last eight at a Grand Slam in either singles or doubles.
Through two rounds, Rice and Horovitz cruised, not dropping a set against either the all-Brazilian pair of Enzo Kohlmann de Freitas and Pedro Rodrigues in the first round or Timofei Derepasko and Daniil Sarksian in round two.
Their run came to an end in the quarter-finals at the hands of the eventual champions Maxwell Exsted and Cooper Woestendick of the United States.
In singles, Rice reached the second round, beating Rodrigues in the first round in straight sets and then falling to Anas Mazdrashki of Hungary in straight sets.
The first-round win was Rice’s first singles win in Melbourne. He has now gotten into the second round of the last three majors he has played.
San Jose Stars
It is apparently not just for vacation that Canadians like to fly south in the winter, but for good tennis results too.
San Jose, Costa Rica hosted a couple of ITF J100 events and a J300 where the young Canadians saw success in January.
Read also: Davis Cup Highlights Strong Week for Canada
The second of the two J100s was where the Canadians did their best, laying their hands on both doubles trophies.
Twins Mikael and Nicolas Arseneault brought home the boys doubles title, defeating the all-American pair of Nathan Blokhin and Mark Krupkin in straight sets in the final. The Arseneaults narrowly squeaked into the final, having won their semi 14-12 in the match tiebreak.
It is the third career ITF junior doubles title for the twins, and the biggest one yet as it was their first J100.
There was nearly an all-Canadian final in the doubles, as Adam Faragcao and Stephane Pierre-Jo Kamendje got to the semis, where they lost to Blokhin and Krupkin. The Canadians had taken out the No. 1 seeds in the first round.
Naomi Xu made it a Canadian double by claiming the girls doubles title at the same event alongside American partner Jessica Bernales. The third-seeded tandem took out the top seeds in the semifinals before defeating fourth-seeded Brits Brooke Blackand and Flora Johnson in straight sets to lift the trophy.
The win is the third ITF doubles title of Xu’s career. She now has at least one title in three consecutive seasons.
It was nearly a double delight for the 17-year-old as she also reached the singles final without dropping a set, but was beaten in the title match by Krisha Mahendran of India.
The week prior in San Jose at another J100, Addison Yang Comiskey and Raphaelle Leroux came close to grabbing the first trophy of the year for Canada, reaching the girls doubles final without dropping a set, but they lost to the top seeds Mariia Drobysheva and Julieta Pareja.
Finally, the last of the three San Jose events was the biggest, a J300, and the Arseneaults very nearly built on their success by adding what would have been another biggest career title.
They reached the final, upsetting the top seeds Stiles Brockett and Nikita Filin of the United States 11-9 in the match tiebreak of their quarter-final clash on route, but lost in the final in two tight sets to another all-American pair, Noah Johnston and Benjamin Willwerth.
Keegan Rice is currently the top Canadian in the rankings at No. 45. He and No. 94 Connor Church are the only Canadians in the Top 100.
Naomi Xu is the top Canadian girl at No. 113.
Check out the full ITF junior rankings here.