The world’s premier event for junior wheelchair tennis players under 18 takes place alongside the final four days of Les Petits As, the prestigious tournament for non-disabled junior players where Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic first met as 13-year-olds.
Merry partnered Russia’s Viktoriia Lvova to win the girls’ doubles as the duo earned a commanding 6-3 6-0 victory over Switzerland’s Nalani Buob and Turkey’s Aysegul Zararsiz in the title decider.
The 14-year-old Queenswood School pupil follows in the tracks of Paralympians and fellow Brits Jordanne Whiley and Louise Hunt, who have previously won the girls’ doubles title in Tarbes.
Merry, No. 2 in the girls’ singles world rankings, eased through her first two singles matches in Tarbes, beating Zararsiz 6-0, 6-1 and world No. 3 Buob 6-2, 6-0 to ensure her place in Sunday’s final ahead of her last round-robin match on Saturday against 16-year-old world No. 1 Lvova.
Merry went on to take the opening set against Lvova before the top seed recovered to earn a 5-7, 6-1 6-3 victory.
With Merry and Lvova meeting again in Sunday’s final as Murray and Djokovic took to the court for their Australian Open final in Melbourne, Merry threatened to take Lvova to a deciding set again when she gained an immediate break at the start of the second set. Lvova eventually clinched the title 6-3, 6-3, but Merry, who will be young enough to contest the next three Junior Masters, is already excited for next year’s event.
“I loved the Tarbes experience, it was very special to be part of Les Petits As and was a great fun event,” said Merry, one of two players on the Tennis Foundation’s Wheelchair Tennis Performance Programme to qualify for the tournament based on their junior world rankings.
“I really enjoyed playing with Viktoriia and. of course winning the doubles, but I was disappointed not to win the (singles) final. But I am looking forward to next year and winning the singles and doubles,” added Merry, who hails from Plymouth and started playing wheelchair tennis competitively less than two years ago.
Merry will now turn her attention to playing more senior events throughout 2015, having ended 2014 with a senior women’s singles ranking of No. 48 and a senior women’s doubles ranking of No.44 and her first senior women’s singles title.
Photos attached: Luz Esperanza Merry in action at the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters and pictured (left, standing) with Viktorria Lvova,(RUS), her doubles partner and fellow girls' singles finalist (Photo credit: Richard van Loon)