Saturday, January 2, 2021

A Look at ITF Top 100 Year-End World Junior Rankings: French Boys, Russian Girls on Top

When the next ITF Junior rankings are released, those born in 2002 will have been dropped, so it's a good time to look back at the final Top 100 rankings for 2020. The Top 100 used to be nothing more than a convenient round number, but since the ITF restructured, forming its World Tennis Tour, getting into that ranking tier now has real significance. Main draw spots in men's and women's lower level pro events are now reserved for the juniors who finish in the Top 100, and many have taken advantage of those opportunities in the past two years. Of course, with the rankings freeze and the limited points available this year due to the pandemic, there is probably less to be learned from these numbers than usual, but it can be interesting without being particularly significant.

The story of the boys rankings this year is not difficult to spot, with France producing far and away the most Top 100 junior players this year, with 14.  Nine of those are in the Top 50, and although those at the very top (see the screenshot above) are all 2002 birth years, seven others in the Top 100 will remain there (and move up) when the first 2021 rankings are published. 

That's in contrast to Italy, which is tied for second with the United States with eight boys in the top 100. Seven of those eight Italians have 2002 birthdays and will leave the junior rankings. That flips for the United States, with six of the eight Americans born in 2003--Martin Damm, Toby Kodat, Dali Blanch, Alexander Bernard, Aidan Mayo and Jack Anthrop--having one more year of ITF junior tennis competition available to them. Bruno Kuzuhara is a 2004 birth year, so has two more years.

China, including one player from Hong Kong, has six Top 100 boys at year-end, as does Russia. Spain and Belgium have five.  In doing this tally, I was surprised by Germany having just one Top 100 player and Australia and the Czech Republic having just two. In all, 34 countries are represented in the boys Top 100.

Number of boys in 2020 ITF Top 100:

14:  France

8: Italy, United States

6: China (including Hong Kong), Russia

5: Spain, Belgium

4: Great Britain, Switzerland, Brazil

3: Poland, Japan, Argentina

2: Denmark, Hungary, Romania, Czech Republic, Australia, Serbia

1: Latvia, South Africa, Netherlands, Austria, Cote d'Ivoire, Germany, Sweden, Moldova, Mexico, Venezuela, India, Thailand, Paraguay, Bulgaria, Slovakia

The distribution of the girls Top 100 is similar to the boys, although the gap between No. 1 and No. 2 is much narrower, with Russia leading with 12, followed by France and the United States at 10.

Of Russia's 12, only four will be dropped from the rankings in 2021, while six of the girls from France will age out. The United States has just three of its 10 girls in the Top 100 who will turn 19 in 2021. Those three, Alexa Noel(Iowa), Savannah Broadus(Pepperdine) and India Houghton(Stanford), are or will be playing college tennis in 2021. Those with 2003 birth years are: Alexandra Yepifanova, Elvina Kalieva, Ellie Coleman, Madison Sieg; those with 2004 birth years are Robin Montgomery, Katrina Scott and Ashlyn Krueger.

There are 36 countries represented in the girls Top 100. Overall, combining boys and girls, France leads with 24, Russia and the United States have 18 and Italy has 14. No other country reaches double digits.

Number of girls in 2020 ITF Top 100:

12: Russia

10: France, United States

6: Germany, Italy

4: Belarus, Czech Republic 

3: Ukraine, Canada, China(including Hong Kong), Spain, Australia, Korea

2: Latvia, Great Britain, Slovenia, Belgium, Japan, Hungary, Slovakia

1: Andorra, Philippines, Poland, Indonesia, Peru, Ecuador, Uruguay, Thailand, Finland, Taiwan, Mexico, Switzerland, Argentina, Croatia, Puerto Rico, Kazakhstan