This year’s ITF/Tennis Europe Grand Slam team for boys and girls aged 14 & Under completed another successful summer tour of Germany and Belgium during the months of July/August. The team consisted of nine players; four boys and five girls. The team’s boys included Karlis Ozolins (LAT), Antreas Djakouris (CYP), Matas Bruzas (LTU) and Gjorgji Jankulovski (MKD) while the girls were Viktoriya Kanapatskaya (BLR), Francesca Curmi (MLT), Ana Ristevska (MKD), Renata Farima (MDA) and Yeva Avetisyan (ARM). Two coaches, Goran Shevchenko (MKD) and Irena Chichmarova (BLR), accompanied the players.
The players and the coaches met in Duren, Germany on July 23rd where they had a short time to meet, train and get to know each other before continuing to the first tournament of this summer’s tour in Duren. The results of the first tournament gave the players every reason to be optimistic about their trip. In the singles event, Viktoriya Kanapatskaya reached the final, where she was defeated by the Russian Darya Astakhova 6-3 7-6(3). Antreas Djakouris reached the semi-final and lost to Natan Rodrigues (BRA) 6-2 6-0. In the doubles tournament Kanapatskaya showed another great performance and with her partner Oksana Selekhmenteva (RUS) won the tournament against Weronika Baszak (POL) & Nina Stankovska (SVK) 6-4 6-1. Djakouris & Bruzas reached the boys’ semi-finals, where they lost to Dev Javia (IND) and Xiaofei Wang (CHN) 6-2 6-0.
The tour continued in Hasselt, Belgium where the Team once again achieved excellent results. The girls’ singles features some particularly strong performances; after winning against her teammate Renata Farima 6-1 6-1 in the semi-final, Kanapatskaya faced another teammate Francesca Curmi. The Maltese was more motivated and won a thrilling long match 6-4 4-6 6-0. In the boys’ singles, Djakouris reached the quarters and lost to the eventual champion, Noah Martens (BEL) 7-5 6-3. The doubles events were also very fruitful, with an all-ITF/Tennis Europe Team final in girls doubles, which Kanapatskaya & Ristevska won against Curmi & Avetisyan 6-3 6-1. On the boys’s side, Djakouris & Bruzas reached the final and lost to Dev Javia (IND) & Ilya Snitari (MDA) 62 63, after the champions had also ended the hopes of Jankulovski/Ozolins 7-5 7-5 in the semi-finals.
For the third week the team moved to Eching, Germany participating at the Bavarian Junior Open. After being very patient and working very hard Kanapatskaya won her first singles title after three hours of fighting against Klara Novakova (CZE) 7-6(6) 4-6 6-3. Ristevska and Curmi both reached the quarters, where they lost to Shavit Kimchi (ISR) 6-1 6-4 and Mara Guth (GER) 6-2 3-6 6-2 respectively. In the boys’ singles, Bruzas fell in the final to Daniel Siniakov (CZE) 6-1 6-2. The Czech also bested Ozolins 7-5 6-3 in the quarterfinals. Great results were achieved in doubles events, too; Curmi & Avetisyan won the 14 & Under tournament against Czechs Petra Csabi & Klara Novakova 57 63 [10-8] while Kanapatskaya & Ristevska won the 16 & Under tournament against the Russian team Sofiia Likhacheva & Noel Saidenova 6-3 7-5. Jankulovski & Ozolins reached the boys’ semi-final, losing to the Bulgarians Alex Ganchev & Anthony Genov 7-5 6-0.
The tour finished at the prestigious Jugend Cup in Renningen/Rutesheim, where the ITF/Tennis Europe players again stood out from the opposition. Kanapatskaya again led the way, coming from a set down to beat teammate Avetisyan in the semi-finals 3-6 6-1 6-3 to reach her fourth final of the Tour, where she fell to Russia’s Avelina Sayfetdinova 7-5 6-3. Ristevska and Curmi again reached the singles quarterfinals, losing to Jana Kolodynska (BLR) 6-4 6-1 and Sayfetdinova 6-2 6-3 respectively. In the boys singles, Ozolins reached the semis, where he was forced to retire with a back injury having lost the first set to Holger Rune (DEN). Bruzas reached the quarterfinals with a come-from-behind win over teammate Jankulovski 5-7 7-5 6-1, ultimately losing to Oleksiy Shestakov (UKR) 6-4 7-6(3). The doubles event again saw success for Ozolins & Djakouris who reached the final but unfortunately due Ozolins’ injury they had to forfeit the match. Meanwhile, the girls concluded the tour in style, with four team members reaching the final as Kanapatskaya & Ristevska went on to win their third consecutive third title, beating Curmi & Farima 6-4 7-5.
After four very competitive tournaments, the team coaches concluded that it had been a very successful series of events for this year’s team. The players competed in some of the best European events in this age category and showed great attitude, competitive spirit and work ethic. The tour provided a great opportunity for all the players who will be able to use this experience for their future development.