This weekend, Charlotte Robillard-Millette will be the fist Canadian to compete in the ITF Junior Masters in Chengdu, China. The tournament brings together the Top 8 boys and girls based on the 2015 year-end rankings.
The Masters is the third of four tournaments in Robillard-Millette’s Asian swing. She reached the final of a Grade 1 junior event in Malaysia two weeks ago, played a $25,000 Challenger in Japan last week and will finish this week in Bratislava, Slovakia where Charlotte will represent Canada in Fed Cup for a second time.
The 17-year-old is on the road with her coach Ralph Platz and they will be taking us along on their adventures in Asia with their very own travel blog! Here’s the latest from Charlotte and Ralph…
Okay!!! It’s the last day of competition here in Chengdu! We woke up for breakfast and you could feel the stress, they are playing the finals, the 3rd place playoff, the 5th place playoff and the 7th place playoff! Everybody wants to leave this amazing event with a win, there’s much more at stake than just bragging rights… But that’s important too!
Charlotte woke up a little sore and had a slightly pulled muscle, nothing she’s not used to but not 100% just the same. There was a little confusion with the schedule as it was changed three times because of rain… Gotta deal with it!
She psyched up well and prepared well physically. She started well, made some corrections and obviously learned some good lessons from the day before winning the match 7-6(8), 6-2. Another good performance and lots of great things to build on going into the spring and summer’s busy schedule. We were both proud of today’s performance and can leave Chengdu with our heads held high!
It was a great touch that the tournament provided us with a volunteer assistant! Ours was named Kiwi, she is a law student and did an outstanding job helping us with the details and translation, including taking me to the hospital (that’s another crazy story!) A little shout out to the ITF (Dave, Jackie, James, Helen and staff) for putting on another amazing event and for having the professionalism to want to make it even better for years to come!
The closing ceremony and party was a blast with entertainment and amazing food and drinks. We all ate, the players and volunteers danced and the coaches and staff de-stressed! Phewwwwww!!!
More good news is that Charlotte was called up to the Fed Cup tie in Slovakia so we will part ways for a week or so and start training for the clay season in Italy and France for more adventures! Congratulations to Charlotte whose hard work and healthy attitude is taking her places… literally!!
Tough day at the office!
It’s for sure tougher to compete against your friends than it is your acquaintances, especially in this this sport.
Today was a fairly competitive match with some opportunities to be had. We all know that capitalizing on those opportunities is key but easier said than done, which is part of the learning process. That said, it doesn’t make the hand shake any easier.
Katie Swan from Great Britain won the match over Charlotte 6-3, 7-5. Good luck to her in the finals against Anna Blinkova from Russia. Charlotte will play Kayla Day from the U.S. for third place.
One of my pet peeves about being on the road is travelling to all these cool places but not being able to see much, so it was really nice that the tournament organized a few extracurricular activities for us all to do (can’t practice all day every day!) What’s a trip to Chengdu, China without visiting the pandas…
The draw ceremony was held in downtown Chengdu and was really over the top! The players were introduced to a huge crowd and they literally rolled out the red carpet for them! One of the tournament sponsors custom made dresses and suits for all the players. These kids aren’t quite stars yet but they sure got a taste of what it might be like.
The opening ceremony was short but sweet before the first match of the day on center court… then it was show time! Charlotte drew Tereza Mihalikova who she played in the quarter-finals of last year’s Australian Open. Charlotte lost that one 6-2, 6-2 and Tereza went on to win the tournament. Tereza was also a finalist at this year’s Aussie Open. Today, Charlotte came out on top, winning the match 7-5, 6-4! Once she got through a tense first set she seemed to get on a roll going up 3-1, that’s when the skies opened up with a thundershower. When they got back on court roughly two hours later it was a different style of play but she progressively found her rhythm and closed out the match! It was a good performance and she handled the distractions and situation of being on such a big court for the first time very well.
Last year when Charlotte and I were discussing her goals for 2015, one of them was to finish the year ranked top 10 in the ITF junior world rankings and to make the newly formed Jr. Masters event. Overcoming a few uncontrollable hurdles… a big kudos to Charlotte for being here! Well deserved!
I’ve pretty much been to every major event tennis has to offer and the Chengdu Jr. Masters is up there with the best.
The players, coaches, ITF staff and volunteers from all over the world started trickling in over the weekend it was good to see some familiar faces and make some new connections. There are a few players missing from the year end top ten but the field is very strong and most of the girls have had some impressive results already in 2016. In a nutshell, we have the Aussie Open finalist, Gerdeau Cup GA champion, a Pro 25K winner, a Carson G1 winner, a Malaysian G1 finalist, just to name a few.
It’s been great to be able to practice with such a talented bunch of girls and I think that the quality of practice/training has been as valuable as the tournament!
Charlotte’s final in Malaysia was on Sunday morning, so we had to fly from Kuching to Tokyo on Sunday night as the 25K in Kofu, Japan started Tuesday… Another red eye! Needless to say neither of us were happy about that. Once we arrived in Toyko Monday morning we had to navigate two trains to Kofu which was another 4.5 hour journey in total. We were both very tired but it was really awesome to see Toyko and the country side by train. Kofu is a cool little city nestled in the mountains about an hour from Mt. Fuji.
(Planes… Trains… and Automobiles!)
Charlotte has had a decent amount of success playing in a very limited amount of pro Challenger events as a 16-year- old, mostly 25k’s and 50k’s. But, playing on the road is always another story.
Charlotte lost in the first round of the Kofu Challenger to a solid Japanese player ranked in the top 200 6-3, 6-2.
Being on the road is definitely toughest when you have days to kill after a loss and in between tournaments. We stayed for a day to train with some of the other players, did some fitness, saw some sights, and of course ate some truly amazing sushi (check my Instagram @ralph_platz). On Friday, we made our way back to Toyko by train and we were off to Chengdu, China for the ITF Junior Masters!
We arrived safely in Chengdu after an interesting flight with a local Chinese airline and had a bit of a scare with delayed luggage. Our volunteer assistant met us at the Chengdu airport and took us to the hotel. We were in our rooms and in bed by 3:30am. Zzzzz…
From London we then flew 12 hours to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (in coach) but for some reason it went fast?!?! (I’m sure Charlotte would beg to differ.) We then had a short one-hour hop to Kuching, Malaysia, transferred to our hotel and checked in for a 12+ hour sleep!
The next day we started preparing for the tournament which wasn’t easy as the humidity level was seriously incredible… You literally could not play for three minutes without dripping with sweat and it was a drastic change coming from a very cold and dry winter in Montreal!
Sweat literally dripping from Charlotte’s clothes during a water break at practice!
In Kuching, Charlotte played well getting to the finals, the conditions were very tough with the heat and crazy humidity. Thank goodness for Andre Parent and the fitness plan! She also received some very nice press along the way.
Feature photo by: Susan Mullane