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20 Players to Watch - Part 4

In Parts 1, 2 and 3 (available herehere and here), we have covered fifteen young ladies that could go far in the WTA. In this fourth and final part, we look at five more talented teenagers, who have a combined 18 ITF titles between them in 2012:

16. Margarita Gasparyan (RUS)

Age: 18
Ranking: 234
2012 Record: 27-8
2012 Titles: 4 ($25k Moscow, $25k Moscow, $25k Moscow, $25k Yoshkar-Ola)

Another player off the seemingly endless conveyor belt of Russian talent, she reached the semi-final of the European Junior Championships and won four titles on the senior ITF circuit in her first full year, including titles on clay, hard court and carpet.

She impressed when taking a set off world number 18, Lucie Safarova, in her first WTA main draw match, where her one-handed backhand particularly caught the eye, as well as the variety of shots that she possessed. Having boosted her ranking from 648 to 231 this year, she will be looking to push on next year and move into the top 200 and higher.

17. Ashleigh Barty (AUS)

Age: 16
Ranking: 183
2012 Record: 32-7
2012 Titles: 4 ($25k Sydney, $25k Mildura, $50k Nottingham, $25k Traralgon)

Ashleigh Barty has an excellent record from 2012, having won four titles, as well as reaching another two finals. These results pushed her up into the top 200 in the world, and at just 16-years old, she has plenty of time to improve. However, the real challenge will be to start getting some results outside of her native Australia.

The aim in 2013 will be to get some results in the bigger ITF tournaments, and push for a couple of successful qualifications on the full WTA tour. She has plenty of talent and could potentially push toward the top 100 by the end of the year.

18. Madison Keys (USA)

Age: 17
Ranking: 138
2012 Record: 22-13
2012 Titles: 2 ($50k Saguenay, $75k Phoenix)

Madison Keys started 2012 by earning a wildcard into the Australian Open, and she had several excellent results, reaching the second round in Miami and winning ITF titles in Saguenay and Phoenix. She has beaten several solid players, including Bethanie Mattek-Sands (x2), Timea Babos, Magdalena Rybarikova and Anastasia Rodionova, showing she has the potential to push higher than her current ranking.

She will be hoping to make the most of her wildcard into the Australian Open, and if she can win a match or two there, she will start getting direct entry into the other Grand Slams. A top-100 ranking in 2013 is a definite possibility and she should start to move onto the WTA tour rather than the ITF.

19. Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova (SVK)

Age: 18
Ranking: 200
2012 Record: 45-11
2012 Titles: 5 ($10k Antalya-Belconti, $10k Antalya-Belconti, $10k Bad Saarow, $25k Brescia, $25 Netanya)

Junior Ranking: 49
2012 Junior Record: 15-3
2012 Junior Titles: 0

Anna-Karolina Schmiedlova had a good 2012, winning five titles on the ITF circuit, albeit all at the $10k and $25k level. However, the highlight of her year was an excellent run to the final of the junior French Open, beating the likes of Daria Gavrilova, Taylor Townsend and Katerina Siniakova during the week.

Her aim for 2013 must be to continue her progress and start competing in some $50k and $100k tournaments at the ITF level, as well as looking to qualify for the occasional WTA tournament if possible. She has won titles on both clay and hard court thus far, and if she can continue improving her all-round game, she could be ready to eye up a shot at the top 100 in twelve months time.

20. Yulia Putintseva (KAZ)

Age: 17
Ranking: 124
2012 Record: 31-13
2012 Titles: 3 ($50k Tyumen, $25 Launceston, $100K Cagnes-sur-Mer)

Junior Ranking: 16
2012 Junior Record: 12-2
2012 Junior Titles: 0

Yulia Putintseva brings a certain attitude to the court, although it does not seem to be overly affecting her play. Aggressive to the point of obnoxious, she has still won three titles in 2012, including a big win in Cagnes-sur-Mer in the $100k, beating two top-100 players. She only appeared in one WTA tournament in Copenhagen, where she put up a decent fight against Jelena Jankovic, but she did reach the final of the junior Australian Open.

She should look to make the step up to the full WTA tour this year, although her decision to play the Australian Open juniors is bizarre, and suggests that she has a lot of maturing to go before she is ready to fulfil her potential. Despite this, a top-100 place should be a very achievable target in 2013.

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