Tennis Europe Junior Tour
Tennis Europe Junior Masters champions crowned
08 October 2017 - 2017 champions Nardi, Dica, Monnet & Shnaider. Photo: tennisfoto.net
The 2017 Tennis Europe Junior Masters has drawn to a close following three days of high-level action in Reggio Calabria. Top seed Luca Nardi gave the home fans plenty to cheer about, becoming just the second ever Italian to claim the boys’ 14 & Under title. He scored his easiest win of the weekend, hitting peak form in a 6-2 6-1 win over Briton Jack Pinnington Jones.
Victory bookended an incredible season for the European #1, who began the year by winning the coveted Les Petits As title, and ended with the Masters, racking up two other singles and doubles titles, and establishing a 45-4 win/loss record along the way.
Speaking after the match, Nardi said, “I’m very happy for this win. I played a very good match today. The crowd helped me a lot, every time I won a point they were cheering me and calling ‘Forza Luca’. It’s a perfect way to end the year, and now I will go away and train for two months in the winter and come back strong.”
Silver medallist Pinnington Jones also has reason to be happy following a season in which he won three singles and four doubles titles, including the European Junior Championships.
The 14 & Under girls’ final was an all-Russian battle between Diana Shnaider and Maria Bondarenko. In a match characterised by punishingly long rallies, fourth seed Shnaider edged a tight first set before accelerating away in the second, eventually claiming a 6-4 6-1 victory.
It was the first win for Shnaider over her compatriot in four matches, and she was pleased with her performance, saying “I am very happy because I felt a lot of pressure during the match. I wanted to win because this is the best tournament with the best players.”
16 & Under
The 16 & Under boys’ title went to Nini Dica of Romania after a hard-hitting battle with third seed Anthony Genov. Genov served for the first set before being broken twice as the top seed won nine of the final ten games to emerge with a 7-5 6-1 victory. The win adds a Junior Masters title to his European Junior Championships silver medal, and Dica said he is now looking forward to new challenges, explaining “Tomorrow I fly to Argentina to play some ITF events. I will also play in Uruguay and Peru and end up at the Orange Bowl, so this is a great start.”
Top seed Carole Monnet overcame the challenge of European Junior Championship silver medallist Caijsa Hennemann of Sweden to claim the girls’ 16 & under title, scoring a third consecutive straight sets win before lifting the trophy. Hennemann had also not lost a set on route to the final, but had no answer to Monnet’s consistency, losing 6-2 6-2.
Monnet becomes the first ever French girl to win a Junior Masters title, and the first French player since Julien Jeanpierre in 1996, the inaugural year of the competition. She was understandably delighted with the win, having worked hard in recent weeks to get ready for the tournament, “I am very happy because I started the year with an injury, and then I made it made my objective to qualify for this tournament and I really wanted to win it,” she said.
The bronze medal play-off matches saw Igor Kudriashov of Russia beat German Samofalov (UKR) 6-2 1-6 6-2 (Boys 14&U), Jana Kolodynska (BLR) beat Elena Karner (AUT) 6-2 6-1 (Girls 14&U), Lukas Neumayer (AUT) beat Matas Vasiliauskas (LTU) 6-0 3-6 6-2 (Boys 16&U), and Weronika Baszak (POL) beat Marketa Panackova (CZE) 6-2 7-6(2). There was consolation for Panackova in the form of a special ‘Fair Play’ award, given in appreciation of her outstanding sportsmanship throughout the weekend.
The tournament drew to a close with an elaborate ceremony at which members of the organising committee from the host club, ASD Circolo Tennis Rocco Polimeni, awarded prizes to all of the participants.
The Tennis Europe Junior Masters is a season-ending event for the elite players of the Tennis Europe Junior Tour, with the top eight players of the 14 and 16 & Under age categories invited to compete. Former champions include stars such as Alexander Zverev (2011), Rafael Nadal (2000) and Kim Clijsters (1997).