Tennis Europe Junior Tour
Kukasian & Fruhvirtova shine in Stockholm
05 March 2018 - Photo: Artur Kukasian in action
Artur Kukasian and unseeded Linda Fruhvirtova scored big wins last week in Sweden, winning their first ever Category 1 events at the prestigious Kungens Kanna & Drottningens Pris in Stockholm. The event is one of the oldest active tournaments on the tennis calendar, celebrating its 117th edition this year, and 8th as part of the Tennis Europe Junior Tour.
In a boys’ draw strewn with upsets, third seed Kukasian of Russia and his Belgian opponent, number seven seed Alexander Blockx, managed to avoid the carnage and duly progressed to the final. The Croatian top seed, Mili Poljicak, was ousted in the second round by Kalin Ivanovski from Macedonia. Ivanovski then posted another upset of a seed before being taken out by the eventual finalist in the quarterfinals. Blockx, for his part, had come through unscathed with two easy wins, before being made to fight 7-6 1-6 6-1 for his quarterfinal berth by Yaroslav Demin of Russia. After taking out Ivanovski in the quarters by the exact same score line, he saw off fourth-seeded Pole Filip Pieczonka with a straight sets win. In the bottom half of the draw, second-seeded Cypriot Constantinos Koshis made it one round further than the top seed, falling in the third round to Arthur Fils of France. Fils met his match in the next round against Kukasian, who scraped through their semi-final encounter with a 7-6 third set win.
The final saw the third and seventh seeds lock horns in a very tight two-set tussle, with little between them. The Russian drew first blood, taking the first set on a tiebreaker. With just the one break of serve being the difference in the second set, it was enough to give Kukasian the match, posting a 7-6(3) 7-5 win for his first piece of silverware this year, and second 14 & Under title.
Fresh off the back of playing a winning hand in the Czech Republic’s Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD victory, Linda Fruhvirtova’s fine run of form continues. Not only did she manage to keep a clean sheet by not dropping a set, but she also beat a seeded player in every match except the first round. After defeating a wildcard entrant in the opener, she successively ousted the thirteenth, fourth and fifth seeds before running into Europe’s #1 player Diana Shnaider of Russia. The top seed and reigning Tennis Europe Junior Masters champion had dropped only nine games thus far but was met by an inspired Fruhvirtova, who allowed her just three games. Her opponent in the final was her compatriot, Winter Cups teammate and doubles partner, third seed Barbora Palicova. Palicova had progressed to the semi-finals with relative ease, before being taken to three sets for the first time by Aliona Falei of Belarus.
The final, however, was not comparable to the close encounter that the boys played out. In a match dominated by long and punishing baseline rallies, with both girls showing wonderful defensive skills, the unseeded Fruhvirtova showed perhaps the greater composure throughout to take the win and the title over her friend with a 6-1 6-4 victory. With a first Category 1 title under her belt, she is set for a significant rise in the rankings from #138 where she currently sits and will be one of the players to watch for the rest of the season.
After a rest and time to regroup, the Czech girls were back on court, this time on the same side of the net as unseeded finalists in the doubles. After a tightly contested first set, the pair downed Shnaider and her Estonian partner Aurelia Riga. The 7-5 6-4 result was a great win for the Czech pair and capped of an amazing week of tennis for Fruhvirtova, unseeded yet victorious in both singles and doubles.
The boys’ doubles event mirrored the singles, with both top seeded pairs failing to make inroads. The second seeds had to hand out a walkover in their first match, and an early loss for the #1 seeds blew the draw wide open. Another unseeded pair, from Croatia, held aloft the trophy with upset wins over seeded pairings all the way to the final. In the decider, Bartol Borse & Luka Mikrut brushed aside seventh seeds Bor Artnak & Luka Jovanovic with a comprehensive 6-2 6-2 win.
The Kungens Kanna and Drottningens Pris may be one of the world’s longest-running tournaments, but the organisers are not afraid to innovate. The event was broadcast live on the internet, with expert commentary provided for the final matches. The tournament also played host to a meeting of the Tennis Europe Junior Committee, chaired by Eva-Maria Schneider, where the delegates met to discuss a range of key issues affecting the Tour ahead of this month’s Annual General Meeting.
For full results in all events and age categories from this past week, please click here, or to view the week's photo galleries, click here. The Tennis Europe Junior Tour moves up a gear this week, with a total of 9 events taking place across the continent.