British 14-year-old Hannah Klugman cemented her status as one of the most exciting prospects in the sport by winning the prestigious Orange Bowl title in Florida.
The historic under-18 tournament ranks alongside the grand slams as one of the biggest events in the junior game, with recent winners including grand slam champions Coco Gauff, Bianca Andreescu and Sofia Kenin.
Klugman defeated top seed Laura Samsonova in the quarter-finals and fourth seed Iva Jovic in the last four before a 6-3 6-3 success against American Tyra Grant in the final on Sunday.
She is the first British player to win the main girls’ title having finished runner-up in the under-14 tournament last year.
Klugman said: “It’s an amazing feeling. I played 14s last year and made the final. I was really gutted I didn’t get the win, and obviously to get the win at under-18s, I’m still just 14, it’s incredible. This is still just part of the journey, a little step, but it’s nice.
“I was walking past the poster with all the great players (who have won). I saw Coco Gauff. It’s good that I can be on that board. It doesn’t mean anything in the big picture but hopefully I can make it.”
The success caps a brilliant season for the schoolgirl, who reached her first junior grand slam quarter-final at the US Open as well as finishing runner-up in the girls’ doubles at Wimbledon with compatriot Isabelle Lacy.
Klugman, from Wimbledon, has also already started to make her mark in the women’s game, elevating her ranking inside the top 700.
Having seen Grant peg her back from 3-0 down in the second set, Klugman again showed her maturity to turn things back in her favour, finishing with a run of three games in a row.
“I’ve been so strong on court,” she said. “I was a match point down in one of my matches and also stepping up on those big points. I think I’m really taking on the shots, being aggressive. But for sure it’s my mentality, staying calm out there.”