Tennis Europe Junior Tour
Hosts France & Russia claim 16&U Winter Cups by HEAD titles
18 February 2018
The French boys’ and the Russian girls’ teams each scored emphatic wins on home soil in the 16 & Under Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD finals. For the French, it was a record-extending fifteenth win, while the Russians scored their third win in four years.
The boys’ finalists made it through to the final in Ronchin as unseeded entrants. In the first round, the French overcame the more fancied Russians, who were seeded third, 2-1. Meanwhile the Netherlands beat second seeds Hungary 3-0. In the semi-finals France defeated Italy while the Netherlands outdid Spain, 3-0 and 2-1 respectively.
These are teams with vastly different results over the past few years. Since the dawn of the new century, France has been a far stronger performer, appearing in 10 finals, winning 7, with their most recent victory in 2014. The Netherlands, on the other hand, have only been in one final in the same period, finishing as runners up to Russia in 2016.
The final turned out to be a whitewash, with the French team completely asserting their dominance. They brushed the Dutch team aside, shutting them out altogether with a resounding 3-0 win. The Dutch were unable to claim even a set in consolation, such was the quality of play of their opponents. Arthur Cazaux made light work of Fons Van Sambeek 6-1 6-0 in the first match, before Harold Mayot defeated Guy Den Ouden 6-2 6-3. Cazaux & Terence Atmane then secured a Dutch shut-out with a 7-5 6-3 win over Van Sambeek & Tijmen Loof.
Playing on home soil is usually an advantage, and it turned out to also be the case for the Russians. The girls wasted no time in getting off the mark in Kazan with a decisive 3-0 win over Spain in the first round. Their neighbours from Ukraine, seeded second, also won their first-round encounter against Austria but were then taken out by Belarus 2-1 in the semi-finals. In the other semi, Russia saw off France by the same scoreline, setting up another match between neighbours for the final.
At this level the Russians have been the dominant force in recent years, although their last win came two years ago. In the previous 20 events, Russia has been in the final 15 times, lifting the trophy on 9 occasions. In contrast, Belarus has shown only sporadic signs of force. They were runners up twice in the same period - to Russia, no less - and winners way back in 2004, with a team featuring none other than future world #1 Victoria Azarenka.
In the final, Elina Avanesyan got Russia off to a strong start with a 6-3 6-3 win over Kristina Dmitruk. Oksana Selekhmeteva struggled in the second set, but came out of her tussle with Viktoriya Kanapatskaya a 6-2 3-6 6-4 victor. With the final already decided, the Russians were handed a walkover in the doubles and were able to begin their celebrations early.