Newly-crowned European 18 & Under champion Clara Tauson is enjoying a breakout year in which the 15-year old Dane has reached the Top 5 in both the Tennis Europe 16 & Under and the ITF Junior rankings. We spoke to her to find out more about her recent success and her plans for the future…
How do you feel after the amazing results you achieved this summer, including becoming just the second Danish player ever to win the European 18 & Under Championship?
I was very pleased that Tennis Europe awarded me a special exception as the youngest player to play in European Championships in Klosters. I had heard a lot of great things about this particular tournament in Switzerland and even though the weather was not at its best at Madrisa Hof, we had a spectacular opening ceremony. The sights around Klosters were amazing and the tournament director and all the people engaged in the tournament made me feel extremely welcome.
How did you get started in tennis?
The first time I ever played tennis was on a Wednesday night when my dad and his friends had played a doubles. I was with him at the court patiently waiting for it to be over, hoping that my dad would play with me for a couple of minutes. I had no idea if I would be any good or not, but thought I would give it a try. I was 5-6 years old at the time. He then gave me a racket (my older sisters’ old tennis racket) and threw a ball to me. I hit it well and my dad suspected after that stroke that I might find tennis interesting. We "played" for 30 minutes that evening and for the next couple of years once a week at both soft tennis and tennis with the various colours of balls (orange, green, red etc.), before the yellow ball was introduced to me again.
The first couple of years I had other interests besides tennis, however later on I became more dedicated and really enjoyed playing tennis every day besides watching tournaments in the various Danish clubs, on TV etc. I simply enjoy playing tennis several times a day.
You have reached nine finals on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour and won five of them. How do you explain such good results?
I have worked very hard all through the year on my athletics and my agility on court in order to improve my tennis. This work has paid off and I felt at ease on the court not paying that much attention to the fact if it was hardcourt, clay etc. My results are a benefit of course, but I really love playing tennis, competing and travelling around the world.
Since your last tournament on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour you have won ITF Junior Circuit titles, reached two ITF Pro Circuit finals and been amongst the Top 5 juniors in the world. Do you think that playing the Tennis Europe tour helped you to achieve such great results?
Yes, I definitely think that playing the Tennis Europe Junior tour has helped me mature and prepared me for the ITF tour. I have always loved playing tennis and playing at the junior level has also made me realise how and what I will need to work on in the coming years to improve my tennis on all levels. Also, it is nice to know a lot of the players from the junior level as it is fun to meet them once in a while in various tournaments around the world. I enjoy having friends in tennis around the world.
You are very likely to be the first Danish player to reach the top 10 Year-End ITF Junior Ranking since Caroline Wozniacki, is she an inspiration to you?
Of course, Wozniacki has been a great inspiration for me as a Danish tennis player. I have watched her since I was a young girl playing all the big tournaments that I hope to be part of some day. I admire her for both her mental and her physical strength. And she is a very nice, down to earth woman who has worked hard for her position on the tour. We both come from families where sport always has been of great importance in our daily lives for generations.
Only two years after representing Denmark in Tennis Europe’s junior team events, you’ve already had two singles wins in Fed Cup. Do you think that playing in Tennis Europe team competitions helped prepare you for Fed Cup?
I think that I have matured at the junior level. Learned how to cope in various situations and to acknowledge what I would have to work on in my game when returning to Denmark after an international junior tournament. Juniors gives you an outstanding chance to compete on an international level and to talk to other players and my coach to other coaches about training, tournaments etc.
How important is it for you to represent your country?
Fed Cup is for me a dream come true. It is a great honour for me to represent Denmark and I always enjoy playing together as a team with my team mates. We have a lot of fun and it is very special as tennis is usually a very individual sport. I enjoy representing Denmark in various tournaments and naturally also in Fed Cup where I have the possibility of meeting older players who are much better ranked on the WTA than I am.
What are your goals for the rest of this year and for your future career?
My goals for this year are to improve my game both physically and mentally. Regarding my future career; well…one step at a time. My dream is to improve my tennis every day, work hard and enjoy life on court and be able to compete in all the majors, hopefully winning a lot of titles in the years to come.