With Australian starlet Macy Callaghan returning to defend her 2017 Jeep World Junior Championship - Women's, there's an interesting mix of veteran and fresh-faced world-class talent arriving in Kiama, NSW in 2018. The list does not include two of the best teenagers on the planet -- Caroline Marks (she'll be on the '18 Championship Tour) and Brisa Hennessy, who will surely join the elite ranks in the very near future. While they will be missed, their absence does provide the opportunity to plumb an ever-expanding female talent pool outside of the few surfers who tend to grab much of the surf media's attention.
Macy Callaghan (AUS)
The much-heralded 2017 winner Macy Callaghan arrives in Kiama looking to repeat as World Junior Champ, a feat not yet accomplished in the women's division. The stylish regularfoot from Avoca Beach was granted a wildcard spot into the Swatch Pro at Trestles this past summer, an experience Macy can use to her advantage against less worldly competition. She finished her '17 season ranked No. 10 on the QS and No. 1 in the Australia/Oceania region.
Minori Kawai (JPN)
Minori Kawai advanced all the way to the Quarterfinals in 2017, exiting at the hands of eventual runner-up, Mahina Maeda. While she finished as the No. 6-ranked Junior surfer in the Asia region in '17 due to focusing on the QS, she did win the Ichinomiya Chiba Open - Women's and ended the year No. 21 on the QS leaderboard. Blessed with intelligence and maturity beyond her years, Minori will likely build on her experience last year and improve upon her QF result.
Alyssa Spencer (USA)
In the wake of Marks' absence, Alyssa Spencer enters the fray as Mainland USA's top-ranked Junior entrant. A quick-footed goofy from San Diego, Spencer was the model of consistency on the North American Junior circuit, reaching for Finals this season. "I'm just going to be preparing for the World Junior Championship now and pushing my surfing the best I can," she said in advance of her second trip to Kiama.
Zoe McDougall (HAW)
Another Quarterfinalist in '17, Zoe McDougall went on a massive competitive roll this season, sparked by three QS victories in South Africa and capped by two wins on the Junior tour. All of which added up to a No. 20 ranking on the QS and a Juniors No. 1 final rank in the Hawaii/Tahiti Nui region. Her in-region rivalries with a pair of bright talents from Hawaii, Hennessy and Summer Macedo, will go a long way when she faces international-level competition.
Teresa Bonvalot (PRT)
The third and final '17 Quarterfinalist on this list, Teresa Bonvalot, was outstanding as a local wildcard invitee to the CT-level Cascais Women's Pro in Portugal back in October. She finished 9th at the event while eliminating World Champ Tyler Wright along the way in Round Two. The stylish goofyfoot ended the year ranked No. 20 on the CT, No. 20 on the QS and No. 1 in Europe's Junior region.