Cleeve Harper returned to his home town of Calgary this week to play in the Yonex Calgary U18 ITF (International Tennis Federation) Junior tournament. He won the doubles and was runner up in the singles, a solid performance by the home town boy enjoyed by the home town fans.
(Photo above: Cleeve Harper of Calgary on the left with his doubles partner Phillip Jordan of the US. Picture taken outside of the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre in Calgary).
Cleeve is currently Alberta’s top ranked junior (U18) player and was the #1 seed at the tournament. He recruited his Hilton Head teammate Phillip Jordan to play doubles. Phillip was #2 seed in singles and #1 in doubles with Cleeve.
This was an international affair with over 90 juniors competing from nine countries: Canada, USA, Great Britain, Czech Republic, China, Japan, Netherlands, India, and Australia. Of the 90, twenty-one players were from Alberta (14 boys and 17 girls).
Seven Alberta players won their first round matches:
For Cleeve Harper this was an opportunity to show his stuff on his home turf in his last year in the U18 category. In the quarter finals he won over Australian Patrick Kotan, 6-2/6-2. Then he came back from a first set loss to win the semi-finals against fellow Canadian Maxime St-Hilaire (4-6, 6-1, 6-1).
In the final, Cleeve’s opponent was 15-year old up-and-comer Marko Stakusic from Ontario. In September 2017 Mark won the U14 Outdoor Rogers Junior Nationals. So far in 2018 he has climbed the Junior ITF rankings, reaching the semi-finals in several ITF events. The final was hard fought, and in the end, Marko earned a 7-5, 6-4 win over Cleeve. Disappointing for Cleeve and his fans, but overall a fantastic tournament.
Cleeve also made the final in doubles with partner Phillip Jordan. In the semis they narrowly defeated the US team of Kittay/Tracy (7-6, 6-4) . Then they faced Ayato Arakaki (Japan) and Max Fardanesh (US) in the final. In two straight sets, and to the delight of the Calgary fans, it was a victory for the local favorite Cleeve Harper and partner Phillip Jordan (6-4, 6-4).
Other Alberta players also did well at this Grade 5 ITF level. Hana Gamracy of Edmonton made it to the semi-finals after defeating the both #2 seed in the round of 16, and fellow Albertan Alexandra Jewitt in the quarterfinals.
Mia Kupres and partner Marina Stakusic, and Karin Hamilton and partner Corina Spasojevic both played in the doubles semi-finals. Kupres and Stakusic defeated the 1st seed team from the US (Defalco/Jhatta) to move on to the finals where they faced another US team, Madison Kim and Elizabeth Stevens. They were narrowly defeated in a tight match (7-5, 6-3).
Click here for the full tournament results.
Top photo (left to right): Danny Da Costa (tournament director), Ayato Arakaki (Japan), Max Fardanesh (US), and winners Phillip Jordan and Cleeve Harper. Bottom photo (left to right): Danny Da Costa, winners Elizabeth Stevens and Madison Kim, Mia Kupres and Marina Stakosic.
Cleeve Harper is currently ranked #11 in Canada in U18 singles, 8th in doubles, and #341 in the ITF rankings. For the past several years he has honed his craft at the Hilton Head Island Smith-Stearns Tennis Academy in South Carolina.
Cleeve is one busy 17-year-old. He just finished a semi-final run at the Delray Beach Junior ITF, his best Junior ITF result thus far, losing in 3 sets to the number one seed.
This Albertan on-the-rise has covered a lot of geography already in 2018: Mundial Juvenil de Tenis (round of 32, Ecuador), Queretero Junior Cup (Mexico), Costa Rica Bowl, Panama Bowl (quarter finals), International Spring Championships (32, California), C.O. Williams Barbados Junior International 2018 (8), and Delray Beach (4). So far this year he has a 13-7 win-loss record on the ITF Junior circuit.
Last year at the age of 16 Cleeve made the quarter finals at both the Calgary and Edmonton Junior ITF events, and won the Outdoor MNP Provincials.
Next year he plans to join fellow Albertan Harrison Scott on the tennis team at the University of Texas.
The International Tennis Federation oversees competitive tennis worldwide.
The ITF Junior Circuit is a series of international junior tennis tournaments open to competitors worldwide. The circuit gives junior players international experience as they work toward professional status. This is the second year that the Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre has hosted this ITF Junior event. The Saville Centre in Edmonton hosts Alberta’s only other Junior ITF event June 30-July 7 this year.
The Junior ITF circuit is an important stepping stone for young Canadian players.
Players enter to pursue world rankings on the international junior tour. It’s a great way to play different players at an international level. These events are a stepping stone for high level competition and there are only a few of these types of events in Canada.
Danny Da Costa, tournament Director, Osten & Victor Alberta Tennis Centre
Did you know:
Newly announced ITF Transition Tour. The ITF is introducing a new tour for juniors.
The new ITF Transition Tour aims to provide a more clear and effective pathway from the Junior Circuit to the Pro Circuit. It will also ensure that prize money at ITF Pro Circuit tournaments is better targeted to enable more players to make a living from the professional game. (From the ITF web site).
ITF tournament grading. ITF tournaments are Graded from 1-5 with 1 being the highest grade.
Newly announced “No Service Let” rule. The ITF recently introduced the “no service let” rule for all junior ITF tournaments. Tennis Canada will officially adopt this change this summer.
Calgary is abuzz with tennis tournaments this spring. The ITF Seniors Event, in its second year, was one of several Calgary tournaments in May. Results are here.
The National Bank Challenger Qualifier event will take place June 13-15. The winner will earn a wild card entry into the inaugural National Bank Challenger tournament in October. Among others, Cleeve Harper, Josh Peck, and Harrison Scott will compete.
The $25,000 Calgary Futures Tournament will attract top professional talent from across Canada and other countries. Be inspired by world class tennis players at the Calgary Tennis Club, June 16-24.
Today's Boys & Girls Singles Finals @yonex_tennis #Calgary U18 @ItfJunior Event features #Calgary's very own Cleeve Harper taking on Ontario's Marko Stakusic. The Girls final features Lena Bennett of BC versus Marina Stakusic #yonex @TennisAlberta @ITF_Tennis @TennisCanada
— Danny Da Costa (@dannydacosta76) June 2, 2018
Quote of the Day:
I love the winning, I can take the losing, but most of all I love to play. – Boris Becker
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