After solid performances at the indoor 'Super Category' events at the beginning of this year, Atakan Karahan rose to pole position in the Tennis Europe junior rankings for the first time. We talked to him about his thoughts on those tournaments, and how he's been keeping busy during lockdown...
Hi Atakan! The recent months have been an unusual time for everyone. What have you been doing during confinement?
During confinement, I did my daily routine workouts as much as I possibly could. It is really important to do it to keep the same level. I also tried to take care of my nutrition program during the lockdown.
Tennis courts and facilities re-opened in June under strict conditions in Turkey. How happy were you to get back on court?
I realized how much I missed tennis after my first step into the court. I especially missed the feeling of being focused on tournaments.
Tell us a bit more about why you started to play tennis...
I have started to play tennis as a hobby. But then I quickly realized that I couldn't stand even just one day without playing tennis. That is the reason why I want to become professional.
Which tennis player do you most admire? And who do you think will be the next ATP #1 after the ‘Big Three’?
I really admire Novak Djokovic because I like the way he plays tennis and his mentality too. Regarding the next top player, I would say Dominic Thiem. He is a young talented tennis player and for me, looking at his tennis, he can genuinely say that he will be in the top three.
Is it difficult to combine school with tennis? How is your training schedule?
To be honest, it is really hard to manage both school and tennis. Fortunately, my school helps me a lot so it is easier to combine them. My schedule of tennis is really intense. At practice, we focus on improving my weaker points.
What’s your favourite lesson in school?
It’s not often that a player from Turkey reaches the #1 position in the Tennis Europe Junior Tour rankings. How does it feel?
Being number one in Europe is a very special experience for me and it will always be special. It proves that it is not impossible for me to achieve anything as long as I have my country and people who support me. I would like to especially thank the Gebze Tennis Club. I couldn't have done anything of what I achieved without Gebze Tennis Club. They are the big part of my success.
You have represented your country at two Tennis Europe team events. What was that like?
Representing your country is such a unique opportunity. It does not happen often, so I feel really lucky that I get to play for my country. It means a lot to me. It is a really hard feeling to describe when you wave your country's flag in a tournament.
You started the year really strongly: Semis at Les Petits As, finalist in Khimki and Stockholm, three of the 14&Under Super Category tournaments. How were you feeling at these tournaments?
To take part in some of the best tournaments in Europe such as Les Petits As, ONE SGM Christmas Cup and Kungens Kanna & Drottningens Pris was amazing for me. It was worth all the efforts and all the hours practicing to take part in these tournaments. And it would be a great success if I could now qualify for the Junior Masters.
In Stockholm, you teamed up with Martin Landaluce to win the doubles. The next day, you had to play the singles final against your partner. Did you prepare for that match differently?
The way I prepared for that match was nothing different than when I prepare for any other match. My mindset always has to be the same against whoever I play so I did nothing special.
While traveling for tournaments, which country did you enjoy most? Which country would you like to go to?
The best country I have ever been is Sweden. The thing that I like the most about that country is their hospitable people and their nature. I would also like to go and see Thailand one day, because a lot of my friends recommended me to visit it.
Thanks Atakan. We can't wait to see you back on court when the Junior Tour returns soon!