The winners of the 2016 ‘Tennis Europe Junior Tour Players of the Year – powered by Polar’ titles have been revealed. The award is presented to the four players that top the boys’ and girls’ 14 and 16 & Under rankings at the end of the season, plus a series of winners selected for their achievements on the Tour throughout the year.
For the first time ever, in 2016, four #1s became six, as three girls tied for the year-end 14 & Under top spot. Accordingly, Ziva Falkner of Slovenia, Viktoriya Kanapatskaya of Belarus and Avelina Sayfetdinova of Russia will all receive the award. The three players each competed at the Tennis Europe Junior Masters in October, and between them reached a total of 30 singles and doubles finals during the season.
Falkner told us, “It feels so good to be a Player of the Year, because you know that after a long and hard work everything has paid off. All the training, all the sacrifices, and eventually I made it here!”
The boys’ 14 & Under award goes to Dalibor Svrcina. The Czech compiled a 42-5 win/loss record on the Tour in 2016, winning three singles titles including the biggest of all – the European Junior Championships. Already ranked in the 16 & Under Top 5 as well as 14 & Under #1, his progress looks sure to remain unabated in the new season.
Junior Masters champion Lukas Krainer of Austria claims the boys 16 & Under award, capping a season in which he won five Tour titles and lost just 4 of 35 matches, including two retirements. He described his victory at the season-ending Masters, where he held on to win a tense second set tie break to clinch the title as his favourite moment of the season, “I knew how much I wanted to win it and I knew that everyone was watching me, my parents, my friends, either on-site or online over internet stream. When my opponent hit the ball to the net, I knew I’d won and that was the greatest feeling.”
The girls’ 16 & Under title goes to Russia’s Daniella Medvedeva, who won two Category 1 (plus one Category 2) singles and doubles titles and topped the rankings despite having played fewer events than any other member of the year-end Top 10. Her highlight of the year was “definitely winning the two Spanish tournaments. I have been trying to win Sanchez-Casal for the past 5 years and this year I made it. It is a special feeling after you achieve something you wanted to achieve for a very long time. The other tournament was Guillermo Vilas and this was the last tournament in 2016 I intended to play so I really wished to finish the year with a win.”
Overseas Players of the Year
This title goes to the players from non-European nations that have made the biggest splash on the Tour throughout the year. China’s Qinwen Zheng, who finished the season ranked #8 is a worthy recipient of the girls’ title, having racked up four Category 1 titles across two age groups. Santiago de la Fuente of Argentina (pictured, below) wins the boys’ award, having established a 17-0 unbeaten record, winning both singles and doubles titles at Category 1 tournaments in Velp and Paris.
Doubles Team of the Year
The award for best doubles partnership goes to Gjorgji Jankulovski & Vedran Radonjanin of FYR Macedonia. The pair won a total of five titles in 2016 – more than any other team – across two age groups.
National Team of the Year
Two teams were in the running for this award, with both Italy’s boys and Ukraine’s girls’ 14 & Under teams going unbeaten in Tennis Europe’s team competitions throughout the season, winning both the Winter Cups by HEAD and Summer Cups events. By virtue of a superior win/loss record (34/3, compared to 28/7), the award goes to Ukraine, whose team of Marta Kostyuk, Diana Snigur and Dasha Lopatetskaya went unchanged throughout both competitions, and also went on to win the ITF World Junior Tennis event.
Each of the Players of the Year will receive a computer training watch from Polar in the near future, as well as a diploma from Tennis Europe to commemorate their achievements.