Melbourne, Australia, 22 January 2024 | Leigh Rogers

Hayden Jones has strong athletic genes. His mother, Loretta Harrop, was a world-class triathlete and won an Olympic silver medal in 2004. His father, Brad Jones, excelled in football and claimed the Queensland Australian Football League’s Grogan Medal in 1999.

But in the Australian Open 2024 Junior Championships today, the 17-year-old from the Gold Coast went to head-to-head with opponents who arguably boast even greater pedigree, at least in tennis circles.

Jones faced American Jagger Leach in the second round of the boys’ singles competition at Melbourne Park.

Leach is the 16-year-old son of Australian Open 2000 singles champion Lindsay Davenport, a former world No.1 in singles and doubles, who won an Olympic gold medal in 1996. His uncle, Rick Leach, also topped the world rankings in doubles.

World No.23 Jones had his measure, however, powering to a 6-4 6-0 victory in 56 minutes. He tallied 18 winners and committed only eight unforced errors in a commanding performance.

Later in the day, Jones teamed with American Alexander Razeghi to score a 6-0 7-6(5) victory against Aussie wildcards Cruz Hewitt and Lachlan McFadzean in the opening round of the boys’ doubles competition.

Hewitt is the 15-year-old son of Australian great Lleyton Hewitt, a former world No.1 and two-time Grand Slam singles champion.

“It was interesting,” Jones said about competing against the younger Hewitt, who had plenty of fan support at 1573 Arena.

“I knew if it got a little bit close in the scoreline, a lot of people would come in and be cheering against us. I just tried to block it out and just focus.”

While Jones admitted he knew very little about Davenport, he is familiar with Hewitt, having travelled with the Australian Davis Cup team last year as an orange boy.

“Lleyton’s been very good to me,” Jones said.

“He always says you’ve got to be relentless and work as hard as you can. He’s just so competitive and I think that’s something that everyone can learn off him.”

Jones is hoping his hard work pays off when he meets third seed Tomasz Berkieta of Poland in the third round of the boys’ singles competition.

“I honestly consider myself the favourite,” Jones said about facing the world No.7, who smashed down a 233 kilometre per hour serve in his second-round match today.

“I’m playing some good tennis and I think I’ll make it very tough for him.”

Jones’ confidence stems from an encouraging performance in the Australian Open 2024 men’s qualifying singles competition earlier this month, where as a wildcard he extended world No.139 Camilo Carabelli to three sets in the opening round.

“I didn’t feel the difference between us was hugely in game, he was just more mature on bigger points,” Jones noted.

Determined to learn from this experience, Jones is eyeing a first Grand Slam singles quarterfinal. He has progressed to the third round once before, at the Australian Open in 2022.

“I’ve been in this position before, so hopefully I can play better and go one further,” Jones said.

His younger sister, 15-year-old Emerson, is currently a top-10 ranked junior and also competing in the Australian Open 2024 Junior Championships.

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Aussies in action – Australian Open

Boys’ singles, second round
[16] Hayden Jones (AUS) d Jagger Leach (USA) 6-4 6-0
[14] Jangjun Kim (KOR) d [WC] Ty Host (AUS) 7-6(3) 6-4

Boys’ doubles, first round
[3] Hayden Jones (AUS)/Alexander Razeghi (USA) d [WC] Cruz Hewitt (AUS)/Lachlan McFadzean (AUS) 6-0 7-6(5)
[8] Nicolai Budkov Kjaer (NOR)/Jan Kumstat (CZE) d [WC] Rohan Hazratwala (AUS)/Jarrod Joyce (AUS) 1-6 6-3 [10-8]

Boys’ singles, second round
[13] Pavle Marinkov (AUS) v Diego Dedura-Palomero (GER)

Boys’ singles, third round
[16] Hayden Jones (AUS) v [3] Tomasz Berkieta (POL)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 boys’ singles draw

Boys’ doubles, second round
[WC] Jonas Hahn (AUS)/Ty Host (WC) v [5] Petr Brunclik (CZE)/Viktor Frydrych (GBR)
[3] Hayden Jones (AUS)/Alexander Razeghi (USA) v Maxwell Exsted (USA)/Cooper Woestendick (USA)

> VIEW: Australian Open 2024 boys’ doubles draw

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