- Hannah Klugman followed in the footsteps of future Grand Slam champions
- Teenager overcame American Tyra Grant 6-3, 6-3 amid blustery conditions
- The historic U18 tournament is one of the biggest events in the junior game
Hannah Klugman, still only 14, confirmed her status as an authentically outstanding tennis prospect when she claimed victory in the final of the prestigious under 18 Orange Bowl.
The Wimbledon schoolgirl followed in the footsteps of future Grand Slam champions when she overcame American Tyra Grant 6-3, 6-3 amid blustery conditions in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
It represents probably the most significant win by a British junior since Laura Robson took the Wimbledon girls’ title at the same age in 2008.
The Orange Bowl, played on green clay, attracts a very strong international field and Klugman, who does not turn fifteen until February, showed why she is considered such a hot property with another resilient performance.
In the quarter finals she had beaten the world’s number one junior, Czech Laura Samsonova, 7-2 in a third set tiebreak. In the semis came back from a set and 3-1 down to get past the number four seed, American Iva Jovic.
Hannah Klugman has cemented her status as one of the most exciting prospects in tennis
The one under eighteen in the world’s senior top 100, 16 year-old Russian Mirra Andreeva, has left the juniors behind but winning the Orange Bowl so young is nonetheless a notable achievement.
Past victors of a recent vintage have included Coco Gauff, Caroline Wozniacki, Bianca Andreescu and Sofia Kenin, all of whom have gone on to claim Majors.
Klugman, who was runner-up in the same event’s under 14s a year ago, faces a long and complicated road ahead before emulating them, but this would be seen as a marker.
Coached by Surrey-based Ben Haran, she is still heavily restricted in the number of senior events she can play, but in October reached the quarter finals of the $100,000 WTA event in Shrewsbury while on half-term.
The tennis star taking on American athlete Aspen Schuman at the 2023 US Open in September
Coming off the back of two draining matches, on Sunday Klugman faced the 15 year-old world junior number 23 Grant with the swaying palm trees around the court testifying to the gusty conditions.
Displaying the impressive variety of her game, she broke early and held on to take the first set comfortably.
When she moved to 3-0 up in the second it looked a formality, before Grant upped her performance to level at 3-3 thanks to a double fault.
The exertions of the week looked to be catching up with Klugman, but she remained admirably calm to come through a tight game to lead 4-3, which seemed to break the spirit of an increasingly frustrated opponent.