Five up-and-coming tennis stars to keep an eye on in 2012

Marianne Bevis picks out five tennis players for whom 2012 could well turn out to be a breakthrough season

donald young
Donald Young (right) could shoot to prominence next season PA Photos

donald young

1) Donald Young

The 22-year-old American has talent to burn but has struggled to get the right team and the right attitude to capitalise on that talent. This year, finally, he has made a ranking break-through after far too long around the 100 mark. He ends the year inside the top 40 after a late three-month surge that brought a semi finish in Washington, the fourth round of the US Open and the final of Bangkok. One feels his future is now in his own hands.

2) Ryan Harrison

Hot on Young’s heels, but still only 19, Harrison peaked at 66 this year, more than 100 above the start of the year. He reached the semis of Los Angeles and Atlanta, the fourth round of Indian Wells and gave Ferrer a five-set scare at Wimbledon. He is poised to make a surge in 2012 as he looks to harness his competitive ambition with growing maturity.

3) Julia Goerges

The 23-year-old German won her second career title in Stuttgart, beating Stosur and Wozniacki on the way, and made three semi-finals””Madrid, Auckland and Luxembourg. She started 2011 at No40, peaked at 16 before ending the year at 21. She is, remarkably, one of four striking German women ranked 10 to 32 who are enjoying career-high positions””a competitive environment that should bring yet more out of each of the compatriots: Andrea Petkovic, Angelique Kerber, Lisicki and Goerges.

4) Shuai Peng

Following hot in the footsteps of Asian star Li comes another slow-maturing Chinese woman enjoying her first top-20 season: she finished 2011 at No 17 to make her one of the biggest risers on the WTA tour. She was rewarded with a wild card for Bali despite not winning a title, having reached the quarter-finals or better at 10 events and her first Premier final in Brussels. She also reached the semis in Auckland, Hobart, Charleston and Birmingham. The 25-year-old’s remarkably consistent year included three fourth-round finishes in Grand Slams.

5) Irina-Camelia Begu

The 21-year-old Romanian this year reached her first two WTA finals in Marbella””winning her first WTA match to do so””and Budapest, and her ranking went from outside the top 200 at the start of 2011 to No40 by the end. Her performance earned her the WTA Newcomer of the Year award after just two years on the pro tour.

More in this series:

Male players of the year
Female players of the year
Matches of the year, January to June
Matches of the year, July to November

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