Youngest contestant ever to lose, but can enjoy it: 'This was cool'

10 February 2024

The scoop was already established upon entering the court. With his first point played on Court 1, 15-year-old Thijs Boogaard became the youngest participant ever in the 51-year history of the ABN AMRO Open at 1:05 p.m. on Saturday afternoon. The tennis talent from Geldermalsen couldn't make it any more memorable - for that, the eight-year older Frenchman Hugo Gaston (world number 86) was clearly too strong at the qualifying match in Ahoy, 6-3 6-3. But Boogaard (ranked 1681 in the world) could say afterwards that it had been "a cool experience" to play in front of the packed stands.

About a thousand curious people had come to watch his debut in Rotterdam-Zuid. In front of the entrance to Court 1 was a line of tens of meters long waiting. "So many people, I enjoyed it very much and certainly look back on it positively," Boogaard said after his match, which lasted five quarters of an hour. "Of course I was suffering from tension today. As a little boy I already came here to watch, that you then get to play here yourself is not nothing. I didn't look at anyone in the audience on purpose, just to stay focused. I don't know if there were many friends watching. In terms of level I was pretty good, I just clearly lacked experience. You notice that difference at the important moments.''

In any case, his performance did earn Boogaard an honorarium of 4,790 euros, which he can use nicely as a travel budget. On Tuesday, for example, he is already training in a completely different environment, on gravel, before flying to Egypt to continue his already prodigious tennis adventure during the school vacations. "I enjoyed this and certainly look back on it positively. This obviously tastes like more,'' said the No. 57 player in international junior tennis.

Who did qualify for the final round of the qualifying tournament was Gijs Brouwer. The 27-year-old 'lefty', last year's so surprising quarterfinalist in the main tournament, defeated Frenchman Luca van Assche, still the world number 68, with remarkable ease (6-3 6-3). He will now face Belgian David Goffin for a place in the main tournament on Sunday around noon.
"I needed this," Brouwer spoke with relief. "I played two lesser matches in tournaments before this. I've been training hard the last two weeks to turn the tide and here on Thursday. This court suits me, I was comfortable from the start. And about his meeting with Goffin, the former number 7 of the world, the tall pupil of Michiel Schapers judged: "I'll give myself a chance".   


Guy den Ouden, the third Dutchman to receive an invitation to the qualifying tournament from tournament director Richard Krajicek, then had to settle for defeat on Court 1 against Spaniard Pablo Llamas Ruiz (world number 147). The 21-year-old Den Ouden (number 336) fought his way back superbly in the second set, but did lose 6-4 7-5.

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Youngest contestant ever to lose, but can enjoy it: 'This was cool'