Listen: More to come from Malta's tennis player Pellicano, says coach Juan Giner
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Listen: More to come from Malta's tennis player Pellicano, says coach Juan Giner

17-year-old soars to no. 28 in world junior list

Helene Pellicano soared to new heights this week as the young Maltese player has now broken into the world’s top 30 juniors in the latest list that was published this week.

Pellicano, who turned 17 on Thursday, has jumped 16 places in the latest ITF Junior rankings after reaching the final of the Grade 1 tournament held in Vrsar, Croatia last week.

This result comes just a few weeks after Pellicano won the ITF Junior tournament in Vinaros.

The Valencia-based player has now moved to 28th in the world junior rankings and is Malta’s highest ranked player. 

“It’s a great result for Helene in Croatia but we are always looking at the bigger picture and our ultimate goal is to ensure that she continues to work hard and develop her talent,” Juan Giner, Pellicano’s coach, told the Times of Malta yesterday.

“Our focus when working with a 16-year-old player is not on tournament results but to maintain her progressional progress.

“At our academy we see many girls like Helene, who come with a lot of promise, but to justify their talent with results we need to work very hard and that is what we are doing with her.

“She is at a very delicate age in her career where it is important to work on many aspects of the game.

“At the moment, for us it’s not that important to win tournaments but to ensure that Helene improves many aspects of her game and make sure she makes the most of her talent.”

In Croatia, Pellicano, who was the fifth seed, easily despatched of Switzerland’s Melody Hefti 6-1 6-2 before overcoming Russian Valeriya Olynovskaya 7-5 4-6 6-3.

Next up for Pellicano was Spanish ninth seed Carlota Martinez Cirez and the young Maltese battle cruised through 6-3 6-1.

In the last eight, Pellicano was up against Slovenian Pia Lovric. Here, Pellicano had to come from behind before sealing a 1-6, 6-3 6-1 victory.

The most important now is to continue to work every day on Helene’s game to help her continue to grow as a player- coach Juan Giner

Italy’s Lisa Pigato was Pellicano’s opponent in the semi-finals and the Maltese player battled through 6-2 1-6 6-4.

In the final, Pellicano played Russian Daria Frayman who took the title after a hard-fought 7-6 2-6 7-5 victory.

Giner said that one thing that he loves about Pellicano is her great passion for the game.

“Helene has come a long way since she joined our academy here in Valencia,” Giner said.

“She has improved a lot not only physically but also technically and tactically. But there is still a long way to go before we can say where Helene can aspire in her career.

“The most important now is to continue to work every day on Helene’s game to help her continue to grow as a player.”

Pellicano, who is ranked 718th in the world list, will now continue her preparations for the French Junior Open when next week she will be in action in another Grade 1 tournament, the ITF Juniors de Beaulieu-sur-Mer.

The Roland Garros tournament will be Pellicano’s first appearance in a Grand Slam after making her bow at the Australian Open in January, albeit her participation in Melbourne was blighted by an ankle injury.

“We are focused to ensure Helene arrives for the French Open in her best possible shape,” Giner said.

“Unfortunately, an ankle injury blighted her participation at the Australian Open and in fact she couldn’t train for the season’s opening tournament. But this time we want to do better and she looks in much better condition.

“But we’re keeping our feet firmly on the ground and we can only work hard every day to ensure that she can play to her maximum in Paris.”   

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