With the 2016 tennis season now in full force, many players are beginning to travel from city-to-city on a weekly basis to get back in the swing of things, many of which are regularly active on the ITF Pro Circuit. With 14 tournaments on offer this week, there was guaranteed to be some fantastic tennis in all parts of the world, and the players sure didn't disappoint.
Fourlis, Zhuk, Schaefer Among Singles Champions This Week; Barty Makes Winning Return in Doubles
The biggest tournament of the week on both the men's and women's calendar was the $25,000 event held in the Australian city of Perth, which was won by Australian qualifier Jaimee Fourlis. Fourlis, a 16-year-old ranked number 950 in the world, tore through the draw, dropping just one set en route to the final, where she would defeat fifth seed Su Jeong Jang 6-4, 2-6, 7-6(1) in a grueling final under 90° heat.
Elsewhere, reigning junior Wimbledon champion Sofya Zhuk continued her winning ways in the Middle East, winning her 11th match in two weeks to capture the $10,000 title in Sharm El Sheikh. Zhuk, another 16-year-old who tasted glory this weekend, came through the qualifying and didn't drop a set all week, stunning top seed Julia Terziyska 6-2, 6-1 in the showpiece.
Meanwhile in the Turkish city of Antalya, Germany's Anne Schaefer continued her incredible run of form, defeating Georgia's Sofia Kvatsabaia to win her second title in as many weeks. Schaefer, a 28-year-old currently ranked number 225 in the world, has won 18 of her last 20 matches, which have included making four finals; taking home the winner's trophy on two occasions.
Other winners this week included Liechenstein's Kathinka von Deichmann, Russia's Ekaterina Alexandrova and Italy's Angelica Moratelli, all winners of $10,000 events this week.
It is also worth noting that Ashleigh Barty made a successful return to women's tennis this weekend, winning the $25,000 doubles title in Perth alongside compatriot Jessica Moore. Barty, who announced she would be stepping away from the game 17 months ago, rekindled her love for the game after openly admitting that she lost the love for the sport that had transformed her life, for better and for worse. However, after playing a season of professional cricket with the Brisbane Heat, Barty realized it was time to give tennis another chance. Given that she is a two-time Grand Slam finalist in doubles, it comes as no surprise that the 19-year-old got back into the swing of things almost immediately, and it is hopefully just a matter of time until she starts competing at a similar level in singles.
Ignatik, Milojevic, Jankovits Among Male Winners This Week
At one of two $25,000 events being contested across the ITF Pro Circuit this week, Belarus' Uladzimir Ignatik defeated Germany's Jan Choinski 6-4, 6-3 to capture the championship in Oberentfelden, Switzerland. With this victory, Ignatik, 25, captured an astounding 18th ITF singles title, but his 17th at the Futures level.
Elsewhere, Serbia's Nikola Milojevic defeated France's Laurent Rochette 6-2, 6-4 to capture the F4 Futures event in Sharm El Sheikh, already his ninth title at the tender age of 20.
Meanwhile, in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv - Ramat Gan, 29-year-old Frenchman Yannick Jankovits took home the $10,000 title, getting the better of Italian Matteo Viola 6-3, 6-4. Jankovits, a seasoned veteran of the ITF Pro Circuit, captured just his 11th ITF singles title on Sunday, and hopes this will be the first of many this season as he is coming off the back end of a successful 2015 season that saw him win five titles.
Other winners this week include Ireland's Sam Barry, Latvia's Mikelis Libietis, Russia's Ivan Nedelko, Norway's Casper Ruud and South Korea's Seong Chan Hong, all champions of $10,000 events this weekend. It is also worth noting that this is Ruud's maiden ITF singles title, and this is the second in as many weeks for Hong, two rising stars to watch out for in the coming years.
A Look at Next Week on the ITF Pro Circuit
Next week, there will be a total of 18 tournaments on offer, ranging from $10,000 to $25,000 in financial commitments and ranging from the United States to Spain to Egypt in terms of geographical location.
Come back next week to find out what happened at these tournaments and more in VAVEL USA's weekly ITF roundup!