This year’s ITF/Tennis Europe Grand Slam team for boys and girls aged 14 & under completed another successful summer tour in Germany and Belgium during the months of July and August. The team consisted of nine players - four boys and five girls. The boys were Danilo Raicevic (MNE), Photos Photiades (CYP), Tsotne Dzimistarishvili (GEO) and Aleksa Krivokapic (MNE), while the girls were Arina Gamretkaia (MDA), Milena Gevorgyan (ARM), Patricija Paukstyte (LTU), Klaudija Bubelyte (LTU) and Jana Stojanova (MKD). Two coaches, Goran Shevchenko (MKD) and Darija Deskovic Miskovic (CRO), accompanied the players.
The players and the coaches first met in Duren, Germany on July 29th where they had a short time to train and get to know each other before continuing to the first event of this summer’s tour in Duren. The performances in the first tournament were promising. In the singles events, after losing in the first round of the main draw to the eventual quarter finalist, Danilo Raicevic won the consolation event against the ITF/Asia team member Divesh Gahlot (IND) 4-6, 6-0, 6-1. In the girls doubles event Patricija Paukstyte and Klaudija Bubelyte reached the quarterfinal where they lost to the Korean team BoYoung Jeong and Yeon Woo Ku 6-3 6-0. During the first week, the team showed high professionalism and effort in achieving their goals and getting ready for the second week in Hasselt.
The tour duly continued to Hasselt, Belgium where the team posted some more successful achievements. In the singles event, the boys performed particularly well. After winning against his teammate Tsotne Dzimistarishvili 7-5 5-7 7-5 in the quarters, Danilo Raicevic faced Joel Pierleoni (GBR) in the semi-final and lost 6-1 4-6 6-2. Photos Photiades and Aleksa Krivokapic both reached the 3rd round. In the girls’ event Arina Gamretkaia reached the quarters where she lost to the Canadian Darija Tomashevskaya 6-4 6-2. In the girls’ doubles, Gamretkaia & Milena Gevorgyan showed great skill in reaching the final where they faced Alexandra Eala (PHI) and Priska Madelyn Nugroho (INA). The Asian team was on a roll, having won their last four tournaments, and took the contest 6-3 6-4.
For the third week, the team moved to Renningen/Rutesheim, Germany, to play at the Jugend Cup. Danilo Raicevic underlined his great improvement and reached the singles final where he won an extended battle against the German Max Hans Rehberg 7-5 4-6 6-3. Photos Photiades reached the quarters before losing to the Russian, Robert Korelov 6-3 6-1. In the girls singles, Arina Gamretskaia again reached the quarters and faced the Italian Chiara Fornasieri, losing 6-2 6-3. Aleksa Krivokapic, Patricija Paukstyte and Milena Gevorgyan all reached the 3rd round. In the doubles events Gamretkaia & Gevorgyan again showed that they are one of the best doubles of the tour and reached the final but unfortunately lost to the German/Russian pair Mia Mack & Erika Andreeva 6-4 6-4. Raicevic & Dzimistarishvili reached the semis and lost to the Italians Gabriele Datei and Enrico Lanza Cariccio 6-3 4-6 10-4.
The tour finished with the BMW Junior Cup in Regensburg, Germany where the players had some remarkable results. Jana Stojanova in the 12 & Under age group showed a great level to reach both singles and doubles finals. In the singles event after a long and dramatic match, she lost to Cara Maria Mester (ROU) 6-2 5-7 6-2, while in doubles she won the title with her partner Leticia Tarocco (CRO) against Lola Radivojevic (SRB) & Arina Arifullina (RUS) 6-4 6-2. The other players also had some good results. In the boys’ 16 & Under singles, Photos Photiades reached the quarters before losing to the German Sven Thiergard 6-7(4) 6-3 6-2, while Aleksa Krivokapic, Danilo Raicevic and Tsotne Dzimistarishvili all reached the third round. In girls 16 & Under category Arina Gamretkaia again reached the quarters and lost to Russian Anastasia Sizova 7-6(1) 6-2 while Milena Gevorgyan, Patricija Paukstyte and Klaudija Bubelyte also all reached the third round. In doubles the boys had their highlight where Aleksa Krivokapic partnered Marino Jakic (CRO) to the final, where they were outclassed that day by Germans Benedict Kurz & Nicolas Turtl 6-0 6-0, while the girls’ pairs of Patricija Paukstyte & Klaudija Bubelyte and Arina Gamretkaia & Milena Gevorgyan reached the semis, losing to Nicole Palecek (CZE) & Anastasia Sizova (RUS) and Denise Hrdinkova & Nelly Knezkova (CZE) respectively in champions’ tie breaks.
After four very competitive tournaments, team coaches Goran Shevchenko and Darija Deskovic Miskovic concluded that it had been a very successful summer for this year’s team. The trip benefits the players in showing them the importance of a proper diet, improving their game and fitness but also giving the possibility to have a chance to compete against the best players of Europe and the other continents. The tour provided a great opportunity for all the players who will be able to use this experience for their future development.