By Tumaini Carayol

VALENCIA, Spain – Of all the juniors in 2011, it has been Milos Raonic who has made the most progress since the beginning of the year and solidified his place as a future star. But Raonic isn’t the only young player to make strides in 2011, and not even the only player from his country to do so. This year has also been the coming-out year for another Canadian born in 1990 called Vasek Pospisil.


Age and country is where the similarities between Raonic and Pospisil end, however. While Raonic shot up the rankings out of seemingly nowhere, Pospisil has been a steadily improving work in progress.


For most of the year, Pospisil could be found on the challenger circuit, spending most of his time traveling to obscure venues and winning numerous matches for minimal points and prize money. His breakthrough has come in bits and pieces – first when he defeated Chela in Toronto before giving Federer a tight two-setter, then when he qualified for the US Open and emphatically won his first ever Slam main draw, and then when he single-handedly led Canada into the Davis Cup World Group.


This week in Valencia has proven to be yet another bold step forward. After qualifying for an ATP 500 event for the first time, the Canadian found some majestic form en-route to a nail biting tight three set victory over 23rd-ranked John Isner on Monday.


The victory in itself was impressive, but the manner in which he took the match was even more so. From the very first point, the 21 year-old looked to take the ball on, and it set the tone for the rest of the match, with his forehand dominating proceedings from start to finish. There were moments in the match when his form wavered – but he always found a way through those patches.


He eventually ended up in a third-set tiebreak with Isner, and though most tend to immediately concede defeat when faced with a tiebreak with the 6’ 10” American, Pospisil simply committed himself even more, blasting four winners in the first five points before eventually finding himself up three match points. Once again, the Canadian wavered, but also once again, he refused to let it affect him, holding tight onto his serve before eventually finding an Isner second serve and punishing it to advance into the second round.


Will Pospisil ever be a world-beating top player? Maybe; maybe not. At this point it is unlikely, but still hard to tell. However, considering how much hype and time is given to the likes of Ryan Harrison, Bernard Tomic and Grigor Dimitrov – all talented but temperamental, inconsistent and with the mental strength of a brick – it’s just nice to see a young player with talent and his head firmly screwed on.


After all, in tennis that’s all you need.

Tumaini Carayol is covering the Valencia Open  for Tennis Panorama News. He is a  contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his Valencia coverage here and on our twitter account @TennisNewsTPN. Follow his personal twitter at @FootFault_.