Tennis and arithmetic could have a number of issues in widespread, however for Frenchman Luca Van Assche, they intertwine every day as he makes a fast rise on the ATP Challenger Tour.

Whereas travelling weekly to tournaments, the 18-year-old stays in class at Paris Dauphine College, the place he’s a sophomore. The teenager is learning math and handles faculty whereas away from residence.

“I’ve loads of homework once I’m on the highway, however after all I handle it,” Van Assche informed “Generally it’s troublesome to do each. For the second I’m having fun with doing each so I’ll proceed like this.

“I can not do on-line checks, I’ve to be in Paris. There are like two weeks of exams this 12 months, one week in June and one in January. I research once I’m at residence and on Tour, and for the exams I simply have to be in Paris.”

The Belgian-born star, who moved to France at age three, loved a late-season surge on the Challenger Tour. In October on the Brest Challenger, Van Assche downed Portuguese Nuno Borges for his first High-100 victory. It was an emotional, dramatic three-set match that concluded round 1:30 a.m. Van Assche superior to the ultimate in France, the place he fell brief to countryman Gregoire Barrere.

After ending runner-up on the Lisbon, Brest, and Valencia Challengers, Van Assche was even hungrier to seize his maiden title. At his last match of the 12 months, the Maia Open, Van Assche rallied from a set down within the championship match to triumph.
Luca Van Assche celebrates a semi-final win on the 2022 Brest Challenger.” />
Luca Van Assche celebrates a semi-final win on the 2022 Brest Challenger. Credit score: Un Oeil Averty

“It was an amazing week for me, I’m so completely happy to win,” Van Assche mentioned in his post-match press convention. “Once I misplaced the primary set [in the final], I used to be serious about it like, ‘I can not lose 4 finals!’ I continued to battle and it labored. It was my objective to win a Challenger this 12 months and I did it on the final match of the 12 months.”

Now at a career-high 138 within the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, Van Assche is the youngest French participant within the High 200.

Van Assche is one in every of 9 teenage Challenger champions this 12 months and the youngest French winner since Corentin Moutet received the Brest Challenger in 2017. Following Van Assche’s title in Portugal, he joined an unique record of French Challenger champions aged 18 and underneath: Richard Gasquet, Sebastien Grosjean, Gael Monfils, Fabrice Santoro, and Moutet.

“I noticed that stat the day after I received the title and people guys are an enormous inspiration for me and French gamers,” Van Assche mentioned. “I’m very proud to be in that group and I need to have an enormous profession like them.”
Luca Van Assche on the 2022 Brest Challenger, the place he completed runner-up.” />
Luca Van Assche on the Brest Challenger. Credit score: Un Oeil Averty

The #NextGenATP teen has made fast progress within the early phases of his profession. Certainly one of his most memorable moments got here at Roland Garros in 2021, when Van Assche received the boys’ singles title, the place he defeated his countryman and shut buddy Arthur Fils within the last.

“Successful the Roland Garros juniors title was very particular to me,” Van Assche mentioned. “I reside in Paris, so it was residence. I had my household and family members there. I might go away my junior profession very completely happy, I used to be so proud.

“There have been 4 French gamers within the semi-finals of the Roland Garros boys’ singles that 12 months, it was very cool for us. I hope that the way forward for French tennis will probably be superb.”

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Van Assche has many reminiscences to look again on from this 12 months, together with making his Tour-level debut on the ATP 250 occasion in Antwerp, the place he pushed Yoshihito Nishioka to a third-set tie-break. The Frenchman completed the season successful 9 of his last 10 matches and now seems to construct upon his success in 2023.

“My objective is to proceed like how I ended the 12 months, with loads of confidence,” Van Assche mentioned. “I’m simply working onerous every single day and my objective is to be within the High 100 as quickly as doable.”

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