Re: Katherine Ip-HK's #1 Junior
Earlier this summer Hong Kong's Katherine Ip (ITF 336) was part of the seven-strong ITF/ATF 16 U Team to Europe that competed in a series of highly-graded events on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour.
Last year, Katherine Ip was the mainstay of the under-14 contingent that placed sixth overall at the World Junior Tennis Asia/Oceania Qualifying, which equalled Hong Kong's best result in this competition that first achieved back in 1992.
In all, Katherine Ip was a three-time representative for the territory in the World Junior Tennis competition (2007-09), as well as the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas (2008-10), with the majority of those matches played at the one spot, no less.
Besides Katherine Ip, other players from Asia on this year's ITF/ATF 16 U Team to Europe were Ronit Bisht and Arjun Kadhe (IND), Tas Suwanasang (THA), Gornganok Tiraganok (THA), and Aldila Sutjiadi (INA).
The tour began with a training camp at the Vavassori Tennis Academy in Italy on May 26 before they players commenced play at the CAT-1 Citta di Montecatini on May 31. The final stop on the tour was the Mondial Paris Cadets Trophée Lagardère in France on July 4.
The schedule of events was a follows:
May 26-29 Training camp – Vavassori Tennis Academy, Italy
May 31-June 6 7th "Citta di Montecatini" – Montecatini, Italy
June 7-13 46th "Torneo Dell'Avvenire" – Milan, Italy
June 14-20 Memorial Tato Serina – Crema, Italy
June 21-27 Le Pont des Générations – Le Pontet, France
June 28-July 4 Mondial Paris Cadets Trophée Lagardère, France
Seeded 7th at the "Citta di Montecatini", Katherine Ip defeated Italy's Georgia Vitale, 6-1, 6-1, in the first round before Germany's Sophie Eggenberger ousted her in straight sets. In the doubles, the Thai-HK combo of Gornganok Tiraganok (ITF 267) and Katherine Ip was stopped short of a place in the quarterfinals by No. 6 seeds Maria Masini and Alice Matteucci of Italy, as they went down in the last sixteen, 6-0, 7-6(3).
At the CAT-1 Torneo Dell'Avvenire in Milan, Katherine Ip, the No. 16 seed, first saw off the challenge of Italian qualifier Ambra Cantarelli, 6-3, 6-1, in the opening round but was then beaten by another local entry, Giada Clerici, in a wildly fluctuating affair, 6-1, 1-6, 6-1, in her ensuing match.
After collaborating with Maider Martin Alonso to beat Ambra Cantarelli and Valentina Lia in the first round of the doubles, the HK-Spanish duo succumbed to top-seed eventual champions Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic.
Barbora Krejcikova played No. 1 singles for the Czech Republic at the 2010 Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas European Qualifying.
At the CAT-2 Memorial Tato Serina in Crema, Katherine Ip defeated two seeded players -- No. 7 seed Valeria Bhunu of Zimbabwe and No. 1 seed Maria Ines Deheza of Bolivia -- en route to the semifinals before she was knocked out by Romanian third seed and eventual champion, Irina Maria Bara.
Irina Maria Bara played No. 1 singles for Romania at this year's Junior Fed Cup European Qualifying (Helvetie Cup) and currently ranked No. 14 in Europe. Maria Ines Deheza, on the other hand, is ranked 20th in Europe according to the latest rankings issued by Tennis Europe
The following week at the CAT-1 Le Pont des Générations in France saw No. 7 seed Katherine Ip reach the semifinals after she successfully negotiated No. 11 seed Aldila Sutjiadi and No. 3 seed Vladica Babic of Montenegro in the quarters.
However, the Hong Kong native lost narrowly to Bolivia's No. 13 seed Maria Paula Deheza in two tight sets, 7-6(5), 6-3, and was denied a place in what would have been her career-first CAT-1 singles final.
Maria Paula Deheza led Bolivia to victory at this year's JFC South American Qualifying as the team's No. 1 singles player.
Vladica Babic was seeded 5th for the 2010 European Junior Championships earlier this year.
In the doubles, Katherine Ip and Mai El Kamash (ITF 280) were seeded 2nd but the HK-Egyptian combination went down against No. 4 seeds Maria Ines Deheza and Maria Paula Deheza in the semis, 7-5, 6-3.
The Bolivian tandem went on to beat top-seeded Vladica Babic and Irina Maria Bara in a final set super-tiebreak, 6-4, 1-6, [13-11], to win the title.
Finally, at the Mondial Paris Cadets Trophée Lagardère in France, Katherine Ip, seeded seventh, overcame a three set battle in the opening round against French lucky-loser Victoria Muntean in the second round before falling to No. 1 seed and eventual champion Irina Maria Bara of Romania in the quarterfinals.
In the doubles, Katherine Ip and Mai El Kamash again paired up as the No. 2 seeds but this time they fell to the 8th-seeded South African-Zimbabwean team of Valeria Bhunu and Madrie Le Roux via a third set super-tiebreak, 6-7(0), 6-4, [10-6].
China's Peng Shuai was the girls' singles winner at the Mondial Paris Cadets Trophée Lagardère in 2000, while Chinese Taipei's Yang Tsung-Hua, the 2008 ITF Junior World Champion, was the runner-up in the boys' singles back in 2006.
The highest-ranked Asian player on Tennis Europe's Girls' 16U Rankings List is China's Tian Ran, while Britain's Laura Robson is ranked 12th.
The Touring Teams are part of the ITF Development Programme financed by the ITF and the Grand Slam Development Fund.
With the aim of raising the level of tennis worldwide and increasing the number of countries competing in mainstream international tennis, the ITF Development Programme includes a broad range of initiatives with special emphasis on junior tennis. The main goal is to facilitate the transition of talented players through regional and international competitions and onto the professional ranks.
Former ITF Touring Team members from Hong Kong include Venise Chan (Under 18 International Junior A Team to Europe), plus Jack Hui, Justin To, Ryan Cheung, Kelvin Lam, and Katherine Ip (ITF 14U Team to Europe).
Former ITF Touring Team members from around the world include Gustavo Kuerten (Brazil), Nicolas Massu (Chile), Nicolas Lapentti (Ecuador), Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi (India), Angelique Widjaja (Indonesia), Eleni Daniilidou (Greece), Younes El Aynaoui (Morocco), Paradorn Srichaphan (Thailand), Cara Black (Zimbabwe), Marcos Baghdatis (Cyprus), and Viktoria Azarenka (Belarus).
Zheng Jie, you are always my favourite