Taiwan's Yang named world's top junior in year-end rankings

Taipei, Dec. 13 (CNA) Taiwan's Yang Tsung-hua became the country's first young tennis player to finish the year as the world's top-ranked junior, but now faces the even bigger challenge of converting that promise into a thriving pro career that has eluded many other highly-ranked juniors.
Yang clinched the spot after struggling past Matthew Kandath of the United States 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-2 in the first round of the Dunlop Orange Bowl in Key Biscayne, Florida, Monday, making it impossible for Yang's closest pursuer entered in the tournament, Indian Yuki Bhambri, to catch him.
The 17-year-old, known for his powerful, though at times erratic first serve, secured the top spot thanks to the International Tennis Federation's rankings system for juniors that weighs both singles and doubles performances.
Yang, who captured this year's French Open junior singles title, trailed Bulgaria's Grigor Dimitrov and Australia's Bernard Tomic in the singles rankings, but made up the gap with outstanding doubles results in partnership with Taiwan's Hsieh Cheng-peng, including trophy-winning runs in the Australian Open and Wimbledon junior doubles.
When Dimitrov and Tomic decided not to play in the Orange Bowl tournament, Yang's hold on the top-ranking was virtually assured.
The Taiwanese teenager was unable to overtake Dimitrov in the singles ranking, however, after being ousted in the Orange Bowl's round of 16 Thursday by American Alexander Domijan, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5.
Yang actually had a match point in the third set but could not stop Domijan from winning his 14th straight match on the ITF junior tennis circuit.
The match was just another reminder to Yang that one's ranking in today's fiercely competitive tennis world provides no guarantees for success.
It's a lesson Taiwan's Lu Yen-hsun, who was ranked eighth in junior singles at the end of 2000, and Wang Yeu-tzuoo, who finished 2001 ranked fifth, have learned the hard way.
Both have faced considerable obstacles in sustaining a professional career at the highest level, including litanies of injuries and funding shortages.
Also, for every Roger Federer (1998) , Andy Roddick (2000) and Richard Gasquet (2002), who turned their top junior singles rankings at year's end into outstanding pro careers, there have also been Arnaud di Pasquale (1997) , Kristian Pless (1999) , Gilles Muller (2001) and Donald Young (2005) who have never fulfilled the promise of their top ranking.
Yang, who plans to turn pro next year and is already ranked 550th on the ATP Tour after playing in some lower level Futures events this year, will soon find out if he can make the successful leap to the pros that has eluded so many juniors.