Five Teenagers Destined For Breakthrough Season On ATP Tour In 2024

Five Teenagers Destined For Breakthrough Season On ATP Tour In 2024

by Nurein Ahmed

The 2023 tennis season is in the rearview mirror, and tennis fans are already looking ahead to the new season that is set to kick off in less than a month.

Some of the intriguing talking points include the return to full fitness of Rafael Nadal, the record-chasing Novak Djokovic gunning for the Golden Slam, and the ATP's exciting young trio of Carlos Alcaraz, Holger Rune, and Jannik Sinner possibly causing a regime change at the top.

While those stories take center stage, we cannot completely rule out the potential breakthroughs by youngsters. There are six teenagers in the world's Top 200, and in this article, we shall single out who among them is destined to enjoy a breakthrough in 2024, either making inroads on the ATP Rankings or winning a big title.

5. Jakub Mensik (18 years old)

Jakub Mensik turned 18 in September but may have mastered every shot in the book. We've seen a slew of Czech women making their mark on the WTA tour but only a handful on the men's tour. That scenario will partially change next season with the emergence of Mensik as a potential ATP regular.

Mensik's name became very popular during the US Open, where he qualified for his first Grand Slam and advanced to the third round. He won his first and thus far only Challenger title on home soil in Prague, beating former Top 50 player Dominik Koepfer in the final.

4. Dino Prizmic (18 years old)

It's bold of me to put a player who has not cracked the Top 150 and has only played nine matches at the tour level. But a closer look at Dino Prizmic's profile is sufficient justification that he might be the next big thing in Croatian men's tennis.

Prizmic, 18, has a career-high ranking of World No. 8 on the junior tour and has already graduated from that level. He won the Roland Garros junior's title during the European summer. He bagged his first Challenger title in Banja Luka a couple of months later, becoming Croatia's youngest winner at that level since Borna Coric in 2014.

Prizmic began playing tennis at Tenis Klub Split, where Croatia's most celebrated tennis names - Goran Ivanisevic and Mario Ancic - honed their skills. He has received special praise from his countryman and Novak Djokovic's coach, Ivanisevic. Watch out for this flamboyant young gun in 2024.

3. Shang Juncheng (18 years old)

Chinese men's tennis had been crying out for a flag bearer for many years. Last season, two players stepped up, with Yibing Wu becoming the country's first-ever ATP champion when he dramatically won the Dallas 250 and Zhizhen Zhang playing the role of a giant killer with an impressive number of Top 20 scalps.

Zhang is also the country's highest-ever ranked male player. But a new kid wants to take China's breakthrough streak on the ATP Tour into overdrive and his name is Shang Juncheng. He won his first Challenger title in Lexington, Kentucky, last year.

2023 was far from Shang's breakthrough year because injuries scuppered his plans. But that can only mean 2024 can't be any worse, and in fact, big things should be expected from this energetic and highly skilled 18-year-old from Beijing.

2. Alex Michelsen (19 years old)

Less than a year since Ben Shelton rose to prominence, US men's tennis is experiencing a surge of talented newcomers. And another who has arrived (or will make the splash next season) is 19-year-old Alex Michelsen.

With an ATP ranking of 97, the young Californian has earned direct entry at next year's Australian Open main draw. In August, Michelsen turned pro and decided to forgo college studies, a hallmark of his self-drive and belief in his abilities.

In his short cameo on the ATP Tour, Michelsen reached the final in Newport last July, earning wins over Maxime Cressy, Mackenzie McDonald, and John Isner before falling to Adrian Mannarino in the championship match. He is one of only three teenagers in the Top 100.

1. Arthur Fils (19 years old)

The future of French men's tennis is in safe hands if what we saw in 2023 is anything to go by. Arthur Fils is the youngest player in the world's Top 50, which is quite a distinction for a man who earned his first tour-level win last season.

Fils didn't just stop at one; he tallied 25 wins from 42 matches on the ATP Tour and lifted a maiden ATP title in Lyon. His transformation from Challenger-level player to full-time main tour regular is now complete.

If Fils was looking for validation of his potential, then he got one during the offseason. The 19-year-old's talent caught the eye of 22-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal who invited him to his preseason camp in Kuwait.


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