If you'd asked Filip Peliwo a year ago where he thought his tennis career would be at the end of the 2012 junior season, he wouldn't have had an answer. At 17 he was still developing his style of play, still looking for some success in a junior Grand Slam tournament.
"I was hoping for maybe one good result in a Grand Slam, maybe to make a semi-final or a final and a dream would have been to win one," Peliwo said on a conference call Monday. "I wasn't sure what to expect exactly [this season] because I didn't have any great results the year before."
Peliwo no longer has to hope for success. The 2012 season has represented a breakout year for the Vancouver native and Monday afternoon he was talking to the media from Montreal, a day after wrapping up his junior career with a win at the U.S. Open. It was his second Grand Slam title of the year.
The 18-year-old fended off British rival Liam Broady in three sets and re-gained the No. 1 spot in the junior ranking. His victory in New York comes just two months after he upset then No.1 ranked junior Luke Saville in two sets in the final at Wimbledon.
"It's been a great year and something I wouldn't have imagined," he said.
With the recent success of Peliwo, and other Canadian juniors and professionals, vice president of Tennis Development at Tennis Canada Hatem McDadi feels it's been a year to remember for tennis in this country.
"[What Filip has done] I think it's been historic and you couple that with Eugenie Bouchard winning junior Wimbledon and couple that with Milos Raonic being ranked top 15 in the world, there's a lot of excitement … If you talk about just people saying 'there's something special happening in Canadian tennis right now' I think there's some merit to that."
Peliwo's two titles along with two Slam final appearances earlier in the season at the French and Australian Open make him the first player since Stefan Edberg in 1983 to appear in the finals of all four junior Grand Slams in the same year.
Edberg of course, is a former No. 1 world-ranked professional player and has seven professional Grand Slam titles and an Olympic bronze medal to go along with the four junior Slams he won in 1983.
But success in the junior ranks doesn't always translate to success at the pro level. For all the big-name talents who've won a junior Slam — Roger Federer won at Wimbledon and Jo Wilfried Tsonga, Andy Murray and Andy Roddick won at the U.S. Open — there are plenty who've struggled to convert their success from juniors to the pro-level.
"There are no guarantees that you're going to have a great professional career just because you had a few good wins at the junior level," Peliwo said. "It's a different game. [The juniors] are a good way to see if you're on the right track and the next few years are obviously the most important in my career just to transition and develop my game properly mentally, physically and technically … The pros are obviously much stronger than the juniors so it's going to be a tough few years, but definitely enjoyable and exciting."
He's definitely on the right track. Though his serve may not rip through opponents like that of his Canadian counterpart Raonic, it's his versatility and determination on the court that's impressed McDadi most.
"He's really got an all-round game," McDadi said. "Secondly and probably most importantly, he's an incredible fighter. The matches he comes back from, he just never gives up ... And then the third thing is his speed, he's really quick out there and if you put those three things together it's quite the package."
Peliwo is hopeful that by sometime next year he'll be playing on the ATP Tour, but until then he's going to take some time off and then continue to train. This coming weekend he'll be in Montreal serving as the Canadian Davis Cup team's hitting partner and he plans to soak up all the experience has to offer.
"It's going to be a great experience to learn about what these guys do well and what they did to transition to the pro level. I'm going to try and take everything in, all the lessons that they teach me and enjoy it as much as possible."