WATCH: Top British juniors set to go head-to-head this week in LTA Junior Nationals

Kevin Palmer
Mimi Xu
Mimi Xu and Hannah Klugman battled it out in last year's final (Getty Images for the LTA)

Great Britain’s best players aged 16 and under will compete in the LTA Junior National Tennis Championships this week, with the LTA’s Men’s Team coach Martin Weston hoping the success of British No.3 Jack Draper will serve as a big inspiration to the rising stars of the game.

The Junior National Championships is one of the highlights in our tennis calendar – with the 16U event boasting a roll of honour featuring the likes of Draper, Dan Evans, Heather Watson, Harriet Dart and Paul Jubb.

Not only will the players compete for the prestigious title, but the winners will also clinch wild cards into the draw for the Wimbledon Junior Championships and major junior events being staged in the UK later this year.

Draper is among those who progressed through the LTA’s junior programme before making his mark on the ATP Tour and Weston believes his story is an inspiration for those looking to follow in his footsteps.

“A player like Jack is a great source of inspiration for the players who will be competing in this year’s LTA Junior Nationals,” said Weston.

“A lot of our juniors have been training at the National Tennis Centre in recent weeks and they have been around Jack during that time.

“He went through all the levels they are looking to climb and it shows what is possible in a relatively short space of time for the boys playing in our Junior Nationals tournament.

“Jack has dropped a rope ladder down to junior players in Britain and the hope is that some will jump on it and make their way up to the top of the game.”

With 10 British players currently in the top 100 of the ITF Junior rankings, the most in recent memory, Britain has some bright prospects taking part in a tournament being staged at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

Surrey’s Oliver Bonding is top seed in the 16U Junior Nationals, with the player ranked at 42 in the ITF junior rankings enjoying an encouraging start to the year that included a victory in a J300 tournament in Colombia in February.

Kent’s Benjamin Gusic-Wan is seeded No.2 in the tournament, and the Surrey duo of Mark Ceban (who was the first British winner of the prestigious Les Petit As tournament in France since 1998 in January) and Maximilian Carrier seeded No.3 and No.4.

“Having five of our boys in the top 100 of the ITF junior rankings is a real sign of progress,” added LTA’s Men’s Team coach Weston.

“We also have nine in the top 200 and some of the results our junior boys have been achieving this year confirm they are getting used to playing competitive matches.

“The junior years are vital for giving a young player the opportunity to gather the experience he will need to make the transition into the senior tour and we want to see them get their match count as high as possible.

“The target is to play upwards of 60 competitive games a year and build a good win to loss record, as that is the perfect preparation to hit the ground running when they look to step up to the senior tour.”

Hertfordshire’s Hephzibah Oluwadare will be top seed for the U16 Junior Nationals, with the Surrey trio of Hannah Klugman, Allegra Korpanec Davies and Ciara Moore filling the next three seeded berths.

With 10 British players currently in the top 100 of the ITF Junior rankings, the most in recent memory, Britain has some bright prospects taking part in a tournament being staged at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre in Roehampton.

“We are going to have a full-strength draw with all our best juniors taking part,” said LTA Women’s National coach and former British No 1 Katie O’Brien.

“It has been pleasing to see so many of our juniors making strides on the ITF Junior circuit this year and it will be great to have them all in one place as they have been playing all over the world in recent months.

“Having some tournaments in this country means they have a chance to compete here and the Junior Nationals is always a great chance to showcase the players we have coming through in Britain.”

The LTA Junior National Tennis Championships are played as a straight knock-out with 16 players competing in both the girl’s and boy’s main draws and you can watch the action live via the LTA website HERE