NewsLos Cabos Open of SurfTaro Watanabe

North America's Top Pro Juniors Set for Opening Day in Mexico

The World Surf League (WSL) is back on Mexican sand to kick off the Los Cabos Open of Surf Women's and Men's Pro Junior Monday, June 11 through 13, before jumping into the Women's QS 6,000.

This is a marquee stop on the regional Junior Tour for the North America men. Not only does Zippers provide a high-performance canvas for these up-and-comers to display their potential, but two of three previous winners have gone on to qualify for the Championship Tour (CT) -- Kanoa Igarashi and Griffin Colapinto.

Eithan Osborne (USA) earning runner-up in his Round One heat at the Thomo QS1,000 In Memory of Bill Thomson. Eithan Osborne's aggressive forehand is something to keep an eye on. WSL / Andrew Nichols

North America No. 1 Eithan Osborne earned his first-ever WSL victory to start 2018 at the Quiksilver Ron Jon Junior Pro and is going for a win here at Zippers. This marks Osborne's last year as a Pro Junior and his goal to earn a spot in the World Junior Championship is apparent. He's no stranger to great performances at Zippers, earning back-to-back Finals appearances in 2016 and 2017, but a win here has escaped him on both occasions.

"I'm frustrated I haven't won it yet so this year I am gonna try hard to win," Osborne said. "I'm hoping for a good swell, because that wave gets really fun and have to make sure you're on the best set waves. For some reason, Cabo is a family tradition, we always go as a family vacation. My brother and sister love that contest and having my family with me makes me a lot more relaxed. We try to make it as a vacation, so even if it's focused around the contest, it's a lighter mood because we are all together."

Taro Watanabe (USA) at the Ron Jon Vans Pro. Taro Watanabe WSL / John W. Ferguson

Taro Watanabe earned a Semifinal finish at the Pismo Beach Open QS 1,000 to wrap up a solid, first full year of competing in 2017. Now, he begins 2018 ranked No. 3 on the Junior Tour after a third-place finish in Cocoa Beach, Florida. The 15-year-old has the arsenal to be a possible finalist here at Zippers with his powerful forehand, which is being molded by one of the Tour's more prominent late ‘80s and early ‘90s competitors.

"The best I did was a Semifinal finish in my first two years a junior and I always wanted to go that one better to make a Final, so I was super happy to make my first one in Florida," Watanabe said. "I have been training with my coach, Brad Gerlach, every week and he's helped my surfing so I feel prepared for this contest. I have been to Cabo many times before and I feel really comfortable with it. Most waves on this tour are really small and grindy so it is great to have it at a point break."

Tyler Gunter (USA) winning his Round Two heat at the Los Cabos Open of Surf. Newport Beach, California's, Tyler Gunter earned third place at Zippers in 2017 with his backhand attack. WSL / Andrew Nichols

Current No. 2 Tyler Gunter returns to the event that started his remarkable Finals streak -- now five consecutive appearances. Gunter's consistency earned him his first trip to the World Junior Championship last year and now yearns to make it back in his final Pro Junior season. But, the North America events are spread throughout the year, beginning in March and ending in November, so Gunter and his fellow junior contingent stay busy in between to keep the competitive fire burning.

"I'm super excited to be going back to Zippers, I have been coming here since I've was 14 for this contest so I feel really comfortable at the wave and it's just such a relaxing place," Gunter said. "Making it back to Worlds is definitely my main focus this year. Since there has been so much time off in between the junior events, I have just been trying to do as many QS events as I can to get myself ready for next year and stay focused for the upcoming pro juniors. I couldn't be more stoked to compete in Cabo. I have so many great memories here, so it would be nice to cap it off with a win."

Summer Macedo returns as the women's defending event winner, but has some of North America's top talents to get through once again.

The Los Cabos Open of Surf Pro Junior will run June 11 - 13 at Zippers in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico.

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