Diana Shnaider and Niccolo Ciavarella have been crowned champions this year in Portugal in the first category 1 tournament of the clay court season at the 14 & Under XXV Taça Internacional Maia Jovem 2018. Cementing her position as the number one ranked player in this age category the Russian progressed through the draw with ease. Likewise the Italian number three seed made inroads in this tournament, culminating in a tough-fought victory in the final.
The Italian progressed easily through to the final without dropping a set. His toughest match on route was his second round encounter against the Spanish wildcard Markus Giersiepen Garcia, 6-1 7-5. From then on it was all guns blazing as he demolished the field, dropping just seven games in his next three matches and offering a double bagel to ninth seeded Brit Patrick Brady in the quarterfinals. In the final however, he did come up against strong opposition from number five seed, French player Luca Van Assche. The French boy had earlier made news of his own having taken out the Belgian number one seed Alexander Blockx after coming back from a one set to love deficit in the quarterfinals.
So with semifinal wins over Silvio Mencaglia and Dinko Dinev respectively, Ciavarella and Van Assche had set the stage for a thrilling final and neither player disappointed. The Italian got off to a strong start taking the first set 6-1 but was downed 4-6 in the second. The final set was also a close call, with only one break of serve making the difference. In the end the Italian held aloft his first trophy with a 6-1 4-6 6-3 victory.
For her part, Shnaider made light work of the field, demolishing all of her opponents en route to the final. Starting off with a 6-0 6-0 victory in her first round, her biggest test in the entire tournament before the final came in the second round against German qualifier Tea Lukic who was able to take away four games from the Russian, going down 6-2 6-2. From then on, it was another cakewalk all the way through to the final. There the top seed faced Ada Piestrzynska, the number two seed from Poland. After somewhat of a tussle in the first set Shnaider waltzed away with the match and the title to notch her second tournament of 2018 with a 6-3 6-1 win. This result therefore solidifies her status as the player to beat and keeps her firmly perched atop the rankings.
As seems to be the trend of late, players are having multiple successes in tournaments. Ciavarella and Schnaider are players who have been able to score the singles and doubles wins in the same tournament this year, thus maintaining this curious trend and highlighting their form in both disciplines.
Teaming with his compatriot Enrico Baldisserri, they managed to work their way to the final claiming some important scalps along the way. Upsetting the number three seeds in the first round, they then progressed to the semi finals when they took out the six seeded French team, with Ciavarella again overcoming Van Assche and his partner Logan Lacroix. In the finals they ran into another French pairing, the number four seeds. This match went the distance, coming down to a championship tie break which saw the Italians hand William Jucha & Pierre Lieutaud a 6-4 6-7(5) 10-5 defeat.
The top seeds, Katerina Dimitrova & Stela Peeva from Bulgaria made their way through to the girls’ doubles final. After overcoming a slight hiccup in the quarterfinals against Martina Markov (GER) & Denislava Glushkova (BUL), in what was a very close match won in a championship tiebreaker, they then sealed their place in the decider with a convincing win in the semi finals. In the bottom half, second seeds Shnaider and her partner, compatriot Nadezda Khalturina, made it through the semi finals where they faced their own tiebreaker test against the Portuguese pairing of Mafalda Guedes & Matilde Jorge. The final however went the way of the Russians 6-3 6-1, thus securing the double for Shnaider in Maia. Surely this victory had to be very sweet for Shnaider, as she was finally able to hold aloft a doubles trophy, after having been denied in two previous finals this year.
CATEGORY 2, 14 & Under
It was a good week at the office for the number one seeded Russian Konstantin Zhzhenov. He took the boys’ singles title in a 6-0 3-2 final, after his compatriot Nikita Bochkarev was forced to retire. In the doubles, Zhzhenov teamed with another compatriot, Maxim Dontsov to overcome fellow Russians Yaroslav Demin and Bochkarev yet again, to take the doubles final 6-1 6-2.
In the girls’ draw, local player and top seed Aliona Falei had fantastic runs, winning both the singles and doubles. She saw off Ukrainian Anastasiya Konstantinova Soboleva 6-4 6-4 in the singles final. In the doubles, she took the title with her partner and compatriot Evialina Laskevich. They defeated fellow Belorussians Maryia Stsetsevich & Hanna Tsitavets 6-1 7-5.
For full results in all events and categories here and elsewhere from this past week, please click here, or to view the week's photo galleries, click here.