Grand Slam® tournaments announce 14 recipients of International Player Grand Slam Grants
ITF: (May 22, 2017) Fourteen players from 12 countries have been selected to receive the first ever International Player Grand Slam® Grants financed by the Grand Slam Development Fund (GSDF). The new Programme will provide total funding in 2017 of $650,000 to selected players from around the world as a contribution towards their competition-related costs with the aim of helping them to develop as professional tennis players and compete in Grand Slam tournaments.
The GSDF Committee has awarded grants to players who meet specific age, ranking and regional representation criteria and show exceptional potential.
The following six men and six women will receive $50,000 grants: Christian Garin (CHI), Lloyd Harris (RSA), Ilya Ivashka (BLR), Jurabek Karimov (UZB), Duckhee Lee (KOR), Elias Ymer (SWE), Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA), Ons Jabeur (TUN), Rebecca Peterson (SWE), Sabina Sharipova (UZB), Viktoriya Tomova (BUL) and Renata Zarazua (MEX).
In addition, Jose Statham (NZL) and Abigail Tere-Apisah (PNG) will both receive $25,000 grants as the highest ranked players in the Pacific region to ensure that at least one player from each region receives a grant.
Eight of these players – Garin, Ivashka, Lee, Ymer, Haddad Maia, Jabeur, Sharipova and Tomova – are competing in the Roland Garros qualifying event, which began in Paris today.
US Open Chairman Katrina Adams said on behalf of the Grand Slam tournaments: “This important new initiative will provide necessary support to players that we believe show the potential to rise to the top of the game, ensuring that more nations are represented at the highest levels.”
ITF President David Haggerty said: “I would like to thank the Grand Slam tournaments for their long-term leadership, commitment and support which has been invaluable to tennis development throughout the world, particularly in those nations with fewer available resources.”
The GSDF was originally established in 1986 to encourage and increase competitive opportunities in developing tennis regions. With annual contributions from the four Grand Slam tournaments, the Fund has become an effective means to develop competitive tennis worldwide. The Fund has contributed over $45 million to tennis development since its inception, with over $3.1 million available for distribution in 2017.
The Fund is designed to encourage the establishment of both junior and professional circuits, and to assist players directly, through touring teams or travel grants, to gain international competitive experience. This has helped increase the number of nations represented in Grand Slam tournaments and other international competitions.
Two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka; former Australian Open and Roland Garros winner Li Na; and three-time Roland Garros champion Gustavo Kuerten are among the leading names to have been supported by the Fund.
Victoria Azarenka said: “I was fortunate to receive assistance from the Grand Slam Development Fund when I was a junior. Having just learned about this new exciting programme, I am sure that this increased investment from the Grand Slam tournaments will further help talented young players from all over the world to compete at the highest levels.”
Biographies of all 14 players are below:
International Player Grand Slam Grants
Duckhee Lee (KOR)
Date of Birth: 29 May 1998
Place of Birth: Jecheon, Korea, Rep.
Eighteen-year-old Duckhee Lee has been a prominent young prospect on the tennis circuit for some time. Making headlines for his evident talent in spite of being born profoundly deaf, Lee’s story has been one of steady progression since he first picked up a racket at the age of five. The Jecheon native turned professional aged just 14 back in 2012 but has already won 10 titles on the ITF Pro Circuit, including three this year. His progress has accelerated over the last year – he reached his first ATP Challenger Final in Kaohsiung in September 2016 and climbed to a career-high ranking of No. 130 this April.
Elias Ymer (SWE)
Date of Birth: 10 April 1996
Place of Birth: Skara, Sweden
An exciting young player touted by many to have the potential to put Swedish tennis back on the map, 21-year-old Elias Ymer has already shown signs of his supreme talent at the highest level. Ymer qualified for all four Grand Slams in 2015 – becoming the second player in the Open Era to do so in one year – and went on to reach his first ATP quarterfinal in Gstaad in 2016. He reached a career-high ranking of No. 118 in May 2016, before completing a family double by the end of the year when he claimed the Stockholm doubles title alongside younger brother Mikael.
Ilya Ivashka (BLR)
Date of Birth: 24 February 1994
Place of Birth: Minsk, Belarus
Belarusian Ilya Ivashka is a powerful ball-striker with lofty ambitions to match his 6’5” frame. The 23-year-old Minsk native’s first taste of success on the international stage came in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas, with his first seven Tour-level victories coming for Belarus in the team competition over the last two years. Ivashka reached his first Challenger Tour final in Italy in July 2016 and broke into the Top 200 in August of that year, before qualifying for a Grand Slam for the first time at the US Open.
Christian Garin (CHI)
Date of Birth: 30 May 1996
Place of Birth: Santiago, Chile
After a hugely promising junior career, 20-year-old Christian Garin has since established himself as a stalwart of the Chilean Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team while developing his game on the ATP Challenger circuit. Back in 2013 Garin won the junior Roland Garros title on his favoured clay, defeating Alexander Zverev in the final to become the first Chilean winner of the boys’ crown since Fernando Gonzalez in 1998. This year, he climbed to a career-high No. 187 in the men’s rankings and improved his win-loss record for Chile in Davis Cup to 10-9.
Lloyd Harris (RSA)
Date of Birth: 24 February 1997
Place of Birth: Cape Town, South Africa
Rangy 20-year-old South African Lloyd Harris has a bright future, with plenty of international experience already under his belt. Three years ago, 6’5” Harris became the first player from his country to compete in the tennis event at the Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, and has since become an integral part of the South African Davis Cup by BNP Paribas team – compiling a 6-2 win-loss record since making his debut in 2016. Harris has gone from strength to strength outside of competing in country colours, winning 10 ITF Pro Circuit singles titles – including six in 2016 – and four in doubles.
Jurabek Karimov (UZB)
Date of Birth: 4 June 1998
Place of Birth: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Eighteen-year-old Jurabek Karimov is beginning his ascent in the men’s game after a promising junior career that saw him reach a Grand Slam final and climb to No. 6 in the rankings. The Tashkent native, who stands at 6’4”, finished runner-up at the junior Australian Open in 2016 and proceeded to reach the quarterfinals of the boys’ singles at Wimbledon six months later. He was thrown into the deep end for Uzbekistan in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in September 2016, falling in four sets in the nation’s decisive fifth rubber defeat to Switzerland in the World Group play-offs.
Jose Statham (NZL)
Date of Birth: 25 April 1987
Place of Birth: Auckland, New Zealand
A loyal servant for his country, Jose Statham has compiled a 25-17 win-loss record for New Zealand in Davis Cup by BNP Paribas in the 28 ties he has played since 2005. The 30-year-old Auckland native reached a career-high ranking of No. 279 in 2013. His career-best result is reaching the second round, as a wild card, at the Auckland ATP event in 2010.
Rebecca Peterson (SWE)
Date of Birth: 6 August 1995
Place of Birth: Stockholm, Sweden
Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson has won nine ITF Pro Circuit singles titles and seven in doubles by the age of 21, including picking up the biggest title of her career last April when she defeated Taylor Townsend to win the $50,000 women’s circuit title in Dothan. Shortly afterwards, she climbed to a career-high ranking of No. 119. Stockholm-born Peterson is also the proud holder of a WTA doubles title, winning the Rio Open alongside Ysaline Bonaventure in 2015.
Sabina Sharipova (UZB)
Date of Birth: 4 September 1994
Place of Birth: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
A promising junior, Uzbekistan’s Sabina Sharipova has continued her steady rise in the women’s game, improving her year-end ranking each season for the past four years and climbing to a career-high No. 137 in February this year. The 22-year-old Tashkent native, a quarterfinalist in the girls’ singles at both the Australian Open and Wimbledon in 2012, has made a smooth transition to the senior game, upping her ITF women’s circuit title tally to nine singles and three doubles triumphs.
Viktoriya Tomova (BUL)
Date of Birth: 25 February 1995
Place of Birth: Sofia, Bulgaria
Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova has been a picture of steady consistency on the ITF Women’s Circuit, winning at least one title every year since 2011 and stacking up 13 title wins in singles and 12 in doubles in all. The 22-year-old won four trophies in a prolific 2016 season, including her biggest to date at the $50,000 event in Szeged, to spark a huge leap in the rankings from No. 474 to No. 152 by the season’s end.
Beatriz Haddad Maia (BRA)
Date of birth: 30 May 1996
Place of birth: Sao Paulo, Brazil
Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia has entered a purple patch in her fledgling career. The 20-year-old won her first two $50,000-level events on the ITF Women’s Circuit at the end of 2016, and continued that winning feeling by securing her seventh Pro Circuit title in Clare, Australia in March. She has used this as a platform to build on and in May 2017 reached her first WTA Tour quarterfinal in Prague before winning her first $100,000 title in Cagnes-sur-Mer. She also entered the world’s Top 100 for the first time.
Ons Jabeur (TUN)
Date of Birth: 28 August 1994
Place of Birth: Ksar Hellal, Tunisia
Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur burst to prominence as a junior at Roland Garros, where she became the first North African woman to win a Grand Slam tournament in any category by defeating Monica Puig in the 2011 girls’ final a year after finishing runner-up to Elina Svitolina at the same event. Now aged 22, Jabeur hasn’t enjoyed the meteoric rise of her opponents in each of those finals, but has made steady progress – winning 10 ITF Women’s Circuit singles titles and climbing to a career high singles ranking of No. 108 earlier this month. Jabeur is a seasoned competitor for her country, compiling a 23-7 win-loss record in Fed Cup by BNP Paribas and representing Tunisia at both the London 2012 and Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Renata Zarazua (MEX)
Date of Birth: 30 September 1997
Place of Birth: Mexico City, Mexico
After achieving early success on the ITF doubles circuit, nineteen-year-old Renata Zarazua has begun increasing her stock on the singles tour. The Mexico City native has already picked up nine doubles titles on the ITF Pro Circuit, but added her first two singles crowns in 2016 in Leon and La Bisbal on her way to climbing to a career-high ranking of No. 286 this February. She’s already a regular for her country, racking up a 5-8 win-loss record in the 10 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas ties she has played since 2015.
Abigail Tere-Apisah (PNG)
Date of Birth: 13 July 1992
Place of Birth: Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
A rare tennis talent to come out of Papua New Guinea, Abigail Tere-Apisah is a former college tennis player having competed for Georgia State University from 2010-2014. She graduated with a BS in Health and Physical Education and is a two-time All-American tennis player. After ending 2015 at No. 931 in the WTA rankings, Tere-Apisah now sits inside the Top 400. Her career highlight to date is winning her first doubles title alongside Naiktha Bains at the $25,000 ITF Women’s Circuit event in Brisbane.