National junior champion Ayumi Morita became the youngest Japanese professional tennis player of all time at 15 years and one month when tennis officials gave the green light to her application Tuesday.
The Japan Tennis Association board of directors agreed that Morita has met the eligibility requirements for turning pro, including her national ranking.
Former Fed Cup player Maya Kidowaki began her professional career in 1985 at 16 years and three months for the previous record.
Morita, who graduated from a junior high school in Gunma Prefecture last month and trains at a club run by the management office for Ai Sugiyama, reached the women’s singles quarterfinals of the national championships last fall. She won the under-18 national junior title last year and advanced to the last 16 of the Australian Open Junior Championships in January.
Junichi Maruyama, Sugiyama’s former coach, serves as her coach. The WTA, which governs the women’s professional tennis circuit, limits 15-year-old players to eight tournament appearances a year in a bid to protect them from suffering burnout.
In other news, up-and-coming Aiko Nakamura won her first call-up Tuesday to Japan’s Fed Cup team for this month’s matchup against the Czech Republic while Shinobu Asagoe and Ai Sugiyama were left out to accommodate their schedule on the tour. The 21-year-old Nakamura, currently 100th in the WTA rankings, will team up with Akiko Morigami, Rika Fujiwara and Saori Obata in a largely experimental Japanese squad for the World Group 2 clash in Prague on April 23-24.
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