The 2011 Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD have drawn to a close, after three weeks of play that saw 118 national teams fighting for Europe’s indoor junior team championship.
France won the Boys 14 & Under event in Ascoli, Italy, for a second consecutive year. Their path to victory was not easy, having to survive decisive doubles matches against Estonia in the first round and Croatia in the semi finals to set up the title match with the top seeded Czech Republic. The two teams split singles matches, with Ronan Joncour beating Ondrej Krstev 7-6(2) 6-2 and Dominik Stary conceding just two games to Mandresy Rakotomalala to level the tie. The doubles match was a see-saw affair, with the French taking the first set 6-0 before Krstev and Mirsolav Chyba fought back to equalise. After over two and a half hours of play, the defending champions broke through to take a 7-5 final set, becoming the first team since 1990 to defend a 14 & Under boys title.
Great Britain won the Boys 16 & Under title for the first time since 1993, ending French hopes of defending both titles by beating their hosts in Ronchin. Jonny O’Mara put the visitors in the lead with a convincing 6-3 6-2 win over Alexandre Favrot in the first rubber. Enzo Couacaud then levelled the tie for the French, conceding just three games to Christopher Pearce. The four players returned to the court for the deciding doubles match (pictured), and the British pair, coached by former world #4 Greg Rusedski, controlled the match from the offset, winning 6-4 6-4 to record the first British 16&U win since 1993 (Andy Murray anchored the 14&U squad to a win in 2001).
Russia and Czech Republic came through to contest both 14 and 16 & Under girls finals, with the Czechs also hoping to defend the two titles they won in 2010.
The Russians justified their top seeding in the 14 & Under event, fielding a squad that included two top ten players. 7th-ranked Veronika Kudermetova has been one of the most in-form players so far this season, winning the tournament in Sergiev Posad before reaching the semi finals in Tarbes, and she maintained her form to go unbeaten throughout the Winter Cups. In the opening match of the final, she beat Miriam Kolodziejova 6-1 6-4. Czech #1 Vendula Zovincova then upset Anastasiya Komardina by exactly the same score to set up a decisive doubles match. Kudermetova was then joined by Anastasiya Rychagova, who extended her unbeaten streak in doubles to 14 matches so far in 2011, a run that includes three Tennis Europe Junior Tour titles as well as the Winter Cups.
The 6-1 7-5 win for the Russians secured a record tenth title since they first broke through in 1995 with a team headed by Elena Dementieva, and broke a three-year drought in this age category.
In Frydlant nad Ostravici (CZE), the 16 & Under finals were also hotly contested, with Russia and Czech Republic once again seeded first and second and meeting in the finals. Between them, the two nations have dominated the 16 & Under competition in recent years, winning 10 of the last 13 titles.
For a match that saw four of Europe’s top ten players in action, the opening singles were surprisingly one-sided. Barbora Krejcikova put the home team ahead with a 6-4 6-2 win over #4 Victoria Kan. Europe’s #2 Yulia Putintseva, a veteran of the Russian Winter Cups team playing the event for a third consecutive year, then handed a 6-3 6-0 loss to Petra Rohanova, the only returning member of the victorious Czech team of 2010.
Both teams drafted in rested players for the final match, with Ksenija Sharifova joining Putintseva and Aneta Dvoracova teaming up with Krejcikova. The Russians edged to the first set, winning the tie break 8-6, but the Czechs bounced back strongly in the second, losing just one game to level the match. The final set was a classic, with the defending champions and home hopes eventually breaking through into the fourteenth game to claim a memorable 6-7(6) 6-1 8-6 win.
Full results from the final rounds can be found below. Check out the gallery for photos from all the venues.
Boys 14 & Under | Girls 14 & Under | Boys 16 & Under | Girls 16 & Under