December 14th, 2017
Osuigwe, with Orange Bowl and World No. 1 Junior Ranking in the Bag, Looks Toward Pros in 2018
Whitney Osuigwe’s talents have left the current world junior No. 1 in a unique position entering 2018.
At only 15 years of age she is too young to take to the pro tour full time, held back by the WTA tour’s age restrictions (or the “Jennifer Capriati Rule”). But after a year raising trophies at the French Open juniors, and ending the year by winning the international Eddie Herr and Orange Bowl junior championships back-to-back and claiming the world No. 1 junior ranking, she has little left to play for on the junior circuit in 2018.
It was only last year that a then-13-year-old Osuigwe turned her full attention to international tournaments, along with her coach and father Desmond Osuigwe, climbing to No. 111 by the end of 2016 and reaching the Orange Bowl semifinals as a wild card entry. Only this past February, Osuigwe moved into the Top 50 on the ITF rankings after winning the ITF Grade 1 title in Paraguay, which would be the beginning of her eventual climb to No. 1.
“I think if you train the right way, you are going to have the results you expect,” her father Desmond told zootennis.com this past February. “I have seen the change coming, and she’s been waiting for this moment. She wanted to have the opportunity.”
While the world No. 1 junior ranking has been a goal throughout the year, the pro tour and taking the next step has always been the goal — even with three years of junior eligibility remaining. She has played five USTA Pro Circuit events this year, with her best result the second round at three events. After winning the French Open juniors in June she told the media she had already given up her college eligibility and turned pro.
“It’s a decision I have made,” she said at Roland Garros. “I have been doing well this year so I think it was the right one.”
Her career junior year continued three months ago when along with fellow Floridian Amanda Anisimova (Aventura) and Cincinnati’s Caty McNally, the U.S. Junior Fed Cup team defeated Japan in the final at Budapest, earning the U.S. a fourth overall Junior Fed Cup title and first since 2014.
In the Orange Bowl final last weekend she dismantled the Ukraine’s Margaryta Bilokin 6-1, 6-2, capping a year when she went 57-8 in singles and 34-9 in doubles, likely tying a bow on her junior career.
“Maybe this is my last junior match, I don’t know — but to finish off my junior career like this, it’s amazing,” she said after raising the Orange bowl trophy. “I’m just going to transition further into the pro level.”
Now the 15 year old will target the handful of USTA Pro Circuit events in January and February next year in Florida, and, she says, work on convincing her father to buy her a car.