Top Junior De Minaur Records Maiden Challenger Wins
Rising Aussie wins first Challenger main draw match in Eckental
After an outstanding junior career, Alex De Minaur is now taking his first steps towards recreating that same success in the pros.
The 17-year-old from Australia came through qualifying at this week’s $50,000 ATP Challenger Tour event in Eckental, Germany, then won his first round over Frenchman Kenny De Schepper. With the victory, he became just the third player born in 1999 to win a main draw match at a Challenger.
On Wednesday, De Minaur backed up that win by moving into the quarter-finals over Federico Gaio of Italy. The Aussie has also yet to drop a set after five matches in Eckental.
“It’s been an unbelievable experience. It's my first time playing on carpet and I obviously really enjoy it because I've played my best five matches of the year” said De Minaur. “I’ve been playing great tennis. I didn't focus on what my opponent was ranked. I just went out there to play my tennis and it ended up working out really well. I’m very happy and just taking it all in at the moment.”
De Minaur peaked this February at No. 2 in the ITF Junior Rankings. He reached the boys’ singles final this year at Wimbledon (l. Shapovalov) and teamed up with fellow Aussie Blake Ellis to take the boys’ doubles title in January at the Australian Open.
The teenager has primarily been focusing on pro events this year and played almost exclusively on the ITF Futures circuit. But while his rookie year as a professional player has included some natural learning curves, De Minaur also discovered that he can compete at this level.
“It’s tough. I think it’s a lot to do with confidence. At first you think it’s going to be very hard, as the level on the tour is so high,” he admitted. “But as soon as you get your first win and you see that you can beat these guys, it helps. It allows you to go into matches and feel as though you have a shot.”
Although he’s enjoying success this week on indoor hard courts, De Minaur is capable of becoming an all-surface player. He currently trains full-time on clay in Alicante, Spain, and played the majority of his pro events this year on that surface.
With a swing of Challenger events in Australia to start off the 2017 season, De Minaur is hopeful that he can kick off next year with strong results and became a staple player at this level.
“Next year, I really want to step up, play a lot more Challenger events and improve my ranking,” he said. “I played a lot of Futures events, but I think it’s time to make that transition. Hopefully it goes well!”