He may be fresh from standing atop the podium at the Youth Olympic Games, but his heroics in Buenos Aires have only served to intensify the hunger of France’s Hugo Gaston to collect further trophies.
Gaston shrugged off the pressure of playing in front of a 5,000-strong partisan crowd to beat Argentina’s Facundo Diaz Acosta 64 75 in the final, dashing home hopes of a Youth Olympic gold medal.
His victory in South America helped the 18-year-old, whose best run at a Junior Grand Slam this year was his quarterfinal appearance at the Australian Open in January, to a career high of No. 2 in the junior world rankings.
Despite his Youth Olympic triumph being less than a week ago, Gaston insists life has largely returned to normal, which is how the Toulouse-born left-hander prefers it, allowing him to target his next gong.
“Nothing has changed too much since winning gold, just more interviews and media attention, but after that I try to be myself and stay like I am,” said Gaston, who also reached the semifinals of the doubles and mixed doubles in Buenos Aires.
“I am, of course, very happy to have won in Buenos Aires and my confidence increased during this tournament, and now I really want to win further and to play some big tournaments.
“Reaching No. 2 in the junior world rankings is something else I’m proud of, but it’s just a step. After this junior season I want to play on the Pro Circuit and go forward in the ATP rankings.”
Gaston’s focus is now firmly fixed on the fourth edition of the ITF Junior Masters, which will be held from 22-28 October, at the Sichuan International Tennis Centre in Chengdu.
His moment of Youth Olympic stardom followed the cut-off point for accruing ranking points for this year’s tournament, although he qualified for the competition having finished fourth in the Road to Chengdu standings.
But despite his new-found lofty status as a Youth Olympic champion, Gaston has already adopted the mindset of recalibrating and starting again from scratch, refusing to entertain the possibility of a gold medal hangover.
“I certainly don’t feel invincible or anything like that [having won gold]. Each player is a very strong competitor and I respect them all,” added Gaston.
“I’m looking forward to playing in China because it’s an important tournament for me. It’s important for me because it means I have had a good season, which makes me happy.
“Only the best players in the junior game will be in Chengdu, so it’s very significant for the present and the future.”
Since 2017, the ITF Junior Masters has been fully incorporated into the 18-and-under ITF Junior Circuit, and offers junior world ranking points which help determine the year-end No. 1 ranking.
The boys’ and girls’ singles events consist of two round-robin groups of four players with the top two in each group qualifying for the semifinals.