Kaja Juvan (SLO) won the Girls’ 18s singles at the Metropolia Orange Bowl International Championships stifling top seed and No. 1-ranked Russian Anastasia Potapova 6-1, 6-4. The ITF Grade A, USTA Level 1 tournament is the showplace where the best junior players in the world come to battle for the coveted trophy.
The 55th Annual Junior Orange Bowl International Tennis Championship is one of the most distinguished and paramount junior tennis tournaments in the world! This globally recognized event brings together over 1,500 of the top ranked male and female junior players representing more than 76 countries. Over the past 55 years, tennis legends such as Chris Evert, Jimmy Conners, Mary Joe Fernandez, Monica Seles, Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf have showcased their athletic talent as well as current pros, Caroline Wozniacki, Genie Bouchard, Maria Sharapova, Sloane Stevens, Roger Federer, Juan Martin del Potro, Kei Nishikori, and Andy Murray, 2012 Olympic and 2013 Men’s Wimbledon Champion. As Kaja Juvan adds her name to this prestigious list of Orange Bowl champions, I’m sure she is looking forward to continuing her dreams of becoming the best she can be on the Pro Tour!
Kaja Juvan 2016 Girls’ 18 Singles Champion
How did she do it? Beating the #1 seed Potapova in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 was in no way an easy task. My analysis of her match is based on a Point Tracking Chart I developed 4 years ago while tracking the length of points in junior tennis matches and tournaments. It is evident when analyzing the numbers that Juvan was well-prepared in the First Strike Phase (0-4 shots) going into the Finals this year. Breaking down and going beyond the numbers to get a glimpse into what led to her stunning victory is where we go next.
I’d like to add that this match was played on a “wet” clay court surface on December 11, 2016. The numbers here were collected using the Point Tracking Chart, successfully mapping the length of each point. Thanks to my friend and colleague Todd Nassief for the data entry.
Juvan played an absolutely flawless 1st set by winning 75% of the First Strike points (0-4 shots) when returning serve. Here are the numbers:
Return of Serve – 1st Set
(0-4) 6-8 75% pts won
(5-8) 2-4 50% pts won
(+9) 1-1 100% pts won
In the 0-8 shots (First Strike Tennis and Patterns of Play), Juvan won 8 out of 12 points in these point phases winning 67% of the points. I’m beginning with the Return of Serve numbers because this led to a big confidence booster for Juvan in the 1st set. Putting pressure on the #1 seed’s serve right out of the gate set the tone for the Slovenian to storm through and break serve in the 2nd and 4th game of the set.
Serving in the 1st set was equally as lethal, Juvan won 9 out of 14 points in the First Strike phase projecting a commanding presence starting the point.
Serve – 1st Set
(0-4) 9-14 64% pts won
(5-8) 3-3 100% pts won
(+9) 4-4 100% pts won
Juvan was perfect in the Patterns of Play (5-8) and Extended Rally (+9) phases, 100% pts won. In the 0-8 shots, she won 12-17 points for 71%. So what are these numbers really telling us? Kaja Juvan was simply the better player between 0-8 shots in the first set, either serving or returning serve, she was on fire right out of the gate. As my good friend and colleague Craig O’Shannessy http://www.braingametennis.com, lead analyst for the ATP Tour, says “Just when you think the point is beginning, it’s about to end, and that’s where all the action is!” As you can see from these numbers, it’s exactly where all the action was played as well in the 2016 Girls’ 18s Final at the Orange Bowl.
After wining the 1st set 6-1, with a commanding lead Juvan took this great confidence into the 2nd set where her percentages may have dipped a little but her ability to keep the numbers above 50% in all three phases launched her towards victory.
Juvan continued with a solid performance by applying pressure to Potavova’s service games in the 0-8 shots (21-33), winning 64% of the points played when returning. Even though Juvan had a lower winning percentage in the +9 shot phase, she overwhelmed her opponent by winning the majority of points in the (0-4) and (5-8) shot phases.
Return of Serve – 2nd Set
(0-4) 14-23 61% pts won
(5-8) 7-10 70% pts won
(+9) 5-13 38% pts won
Serving in the 2nd Set, Juvan stumbled just a little on the Serve and S+1, winning just 53% and 50% of the points there, but was able to make up the difference once the point reached the extended rally phase by winning 63% of the points.
Serve – 2nd Set
(0-4) 8-15 53% pts won
(5-8) 5-10 50% pts won
(+9) 5-8 63% pts won
Winning 52% of the points in the (0-8) shot phases when serving and combined with her performance when returning was enough to finish the match with a win. One of the keys to victory for Juvan was when leading 5-4 in the 2nd set and now serving for the match. The 10th and final game was tracked and looked like this:
Point 1: 11 shots (15-0)
Point 2: 13 shots (30-0)
Point 3: 5 shots (40-0)
Point 4: 3 shots (Game)
My sense after looking at the numbers of the 9th game, which lasted 10 points total, was that Potavova was trying to stretch out the rally length of points while hoping for a downtick in Juvan’s confidence and focus to finish the match. But Juvan was able to maintain her focus out of a long point (+9) to the next short point that would ultimately land in the (0-4) shot phase.
I really enjoyed going through the numbers of this incredible match and found that player’s who train on the practice court like they will eventually play on the match court, find more wins, more often when it counts the most. Handling the pressure of beginning a point well is a key factor to becoming one of the best players in the world.
Drilling Deeper Beyond The Numbers
The first 4 shots are made up of the Serve and S+1, the Return and R+1. The next two shots that a player plays is the S+2 and S+3 when serving. The R+2 and R+3 when returning. Here’s a chart to help see this a bit clearer:
Serve (1-shot) Return (2-shot)
S+1 (3-shot) R+1 (4-shot)
S+2 (5-shot) R+2 (6-shot)
S+3 (7-shot) R+3 (8-shot)
The shots played from the Serve player are the odd numbers: 1,3,5,7
The shots played from the Return player are the even numbers: 2,4,6,8
I found that even as well as Juvan played, there were places of improvement in her game. Exactly “where” the adjustments and improvements can be made are found when drilling deeper beyond the numbers in this match.
The 1st set Juvan played was practically flawless in the (0-4) and (5-8) phases, as stated before winning 10-12 points when returning serve and 9-14 points when serving. Total 19-26 points in the 1st set. I’d like to focus more though on the 2nd set because the final set score was 6-4. Here’s a closer look towards exactly where the errors (forced or unforced) showed up.
Return of Serve – 2nd Set
Return: 5 errors
R+1: 4 errors
R+2: 2 errors
R+3: 1 error
Serve – 2nd Set
Serve: 1 DF
S+1: 5 errors
S+2: 1 error
S+3: 4 errors
Juvan returning serve in the 2nd set made the majority of errors (9-12) on the Return and R+1. When serving, she made 5 errors on the S+1. This is certainly a place to look when making adjustments and training on the practice court. Combining the Serve and Return, Juvan made 15 errors in the (0-4) phase of the point and 8 errors in the (5-8) phase of the point. Training these two phases of a point can make the difference between winning 6-4 and losing 4-6. Juvan executed better in these phases of point play in this match than her opponent.
Congratulations to you, Kaja Juvan, on your impressive win at the 2016 Orange Bowl!