Spain’s Ane Mintegi del Olmo and Thiago Agustin Tirante of Argentina toasted the maiden Grade A titles of their career after triumphing in the girls’ and boys’ singles respectively at the JA Porto Alegre in Brazil.
Mintegi del Olmo conquered all before her on the South American clay to claim her only victory of the year so far and her first piece of silverware since topping the podium at the Grade 5 Smash Academy ITF Junior Tournament in Cairo in November. She also jumped 194 places to No. 41 in the ITF World Tennis Tour junior girls’ rankings.
The 15-year-old certainly made her presence felt. Mintegi del Olmo navigated qualifying, brutally defeating American Althea Hudson and Giovanna Pereira of Brazil 60 60, before embarking on a run which saw her dispose of three seeded heavyweights.
She proved too strong for fellow qualifier Hurricane Tyra Black, Colombia’s Manyoma Velasquez and American Kailey Evans before running into fifth seed Ana Geller of Argentina in the quarterfinals.
Mintegi del Olmo recovered from a set down to win 67(5) 62 64 before claiming an even bigger scalp in the last four where she downed top seed Diane Parry of France, again recovering from a one-set deficit as she prevailed 06 75 61.
Despite such a stoic success, Mintegi del Olmo’s journey was far from over and she was crowned tournament champion courtesy of a 62 46 62 conquering of fourth seed Natsumi Kawaguchi of Japan.
It proved a similar story in the boys’ draw as unseeded Tirante dealt with everything his opponents could muster to claim his first piece of singles silverware since the Grade 2 Argentina Cup in October 2017.
But it was far from plain sailing for the 17-year-old, who has risen to No. 26 in the ITF World Tennis Tour junior boys’ rankings following his win, with five of his six matches requiring three sets to be resolved.
That was very much the case in the final as fellow seed-slayer Martin Damm of USA claimed the first set, only for Tirante to launch a spirited fightback to prevail 57 62 62. Damm was one of three Americans Tirante accounted for during his victory march.
Another, No. 13 seed Toby Alex Kodat, fell by the wayside, 36 62 62, in the semifinals, but not before signalling his own intentions by claiming the first set, while Tirante’s route to the final had begun with a regulation 62 60 overpowering of Eliot Spizzirri.
La Plata-born Tirante also accounted for Spain’s Alejandro Garcia 63 57 63, No. 14 seed Juan Bautista Torres of Argentina 16 75 62 and Frenchman Arthur Cazaux, who was seeded No. 10.
Tirante, like Mintegi del Olmo, scooped the 500 ranking points on offer for a Grade A title, while there was a doubles victory for Japanese pair Shunsuke Mitsui and Keisuke Saitoh, who overcame top seeds Damm and Kodat, in the boys’ doubles final.
In the girls’ doubles, Kawaguchi did manage to lay her hands on a top prize after joining forces with Shavit Kimchi of Israel to beat Japan’s Saki Imamura and Jeong BoYoung of Korean, Rep.
There are five more Grade A tournaments, excluding Grand Slams, scheduled for the year, with the next taking place in Italy in May. Within those five, Cape Town will host in September – the first time that Africa will stage a Grade A event on the ITF World Tennis Tour Juniors.