Smart and Ceban claim illustrious junior tennis titles

Bringing together the top players across the nation from the 11 and under to 18 and under age groups, the National Championships are the highest level of junior competition in Britain.

Andy Murray, Heather Watson and Dan Evans are among a long list of past British champions who have gone on to become household names in the game and along with the prestige of winning the Junior National Championships, a wildcard into the main draw at Junior Wimbledon is also up for grabs for this week’s champions.

Smart’s win was somewhat anti-climatic, as Northamptonshire’s Tegan Bush was forced to pull out of the Final after suffering from illness overnight.

Smart, who hails from Hertfordshire and trains at the LTA’s National Academy in Loughborough, was presented with her trophy by LTA President Sandi Procter and Great Britain’s Billie Jean King Cup captain Anne Keothaovong.

“It feels odd to win a tournament like that and it was very unfortunate for Tegan to pull out, but I’m happy to win,” said Smart. “To have my name on this trophy is fantastic.”

Smart started her tennis story at Cumberland Lawn Tennis Club in West Hampstead and then trained at Batchwood Tennis Centre in St Albans before she moved to the LTA Academy at Loughborough last year.

“Being in Loughborough has taken my game to the next level,” she added. “There are so many opportunities to train with great players and working at a higher level. There is such a good tournament schedule and that has certainly helped me.”

Katie O’Brien, the LTA Women’s National Coach, believes the tournament was a strong test for the best junior girls in the 16 and under category.

“It’s been a great week of tennis,” said O’Brien. “A lot of the girls were at a similar level and we saw some great performances.

“Conditions have not been easy at times as it has been very windy, but we saw some great tennis.”

In the Boys’ Singles, top seed Ceban proved to be too strong for Surrey’s Liam Shannon, as he won 6-2 6-2.

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Ceban, who is also from Surrey and is supported by The LTA’s National Age Group Programme, became only the second British player ever to win the prestigious Les Petit As title in Tarbes last year and also won the 14U Junior Wimbledon title last summer.

He also helped lead the British team to sixth in the Davis Cup Junior Finals and was recently ranked No.1 in the 14U Tennis Europe rankings.

“I’m quite experienced playing in Finals, so that helped me to get through this match,” said Ceban.

“I just had to forget the scoreboard in this match and had to take it point by point. To have my name on the trophy is fantastic.”

Martin Weston, LTA Men’s National Coach, believes the standard of competition over the course of the week was evidence of the quality of emerging talent.

“The conditions were windy, but the quality of play was at a high level,” he said.

“It is often underestimated how important it is in the development of our players that they compete against their peers in such events.”

The 18 and under Lexus Junior National Championships will take place at the LTA’s National Tennis Centre next week, with the Finals taking place on Friday.

Find out more about the Lexus Junior National Championships 2024: click here on the LTA’s website for preview, draws, scores, results & live streams

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