The 2018 Tennis Europe Junior Tour has kicked off with a bang in the Russian Federation. This week in Ryazan the prestigious 14 & Under Kremlin Cup Junior event has come to an end with surprise winners of the singles trophies, while home-grown top seeds captured both doubles titles.
Luca Van Assche of France, the #14 seed, beat 15th-seeded compatriot Arthur Fils by the one-sided scoreline of 6-1 6-0 in the boys’ final. Meanwhile, Canadian third seed Dasha Plekhanova put to bed Anastasia Lim’s dream of a win on home turf with her own straight sets victory, shutting out the Russian 6-3 6-4.
Van Assche had made his progression through the draw awash with Russians without dropping a set. He made light work of Serbian fourth seed Branko Djuric in the semi-finals, breezing past his more fancied rival 6-3 6-2. Fils, for his part, had a much tougher run to the final. He had several tests on his way to the the semi-final, where he too dashed the hopes of a local player in the form of sixth-seed German Mingaleev.
The girls’ draw was also teeming with players from the host nation eager to do well. However, the feisty Canadian Plekhanova proved to be a thorn in their side as she took down one Russian opponent after another on her way to the final. Her semi-final victory was arguably as impressive as her final victory, as she took out the top seed Erika Andreeva in a third set tie-breaker. Andreeva had come in to that match a daunting favourite, having dropped only six games on route to the semis and won three of her six sets to love. After finishing as a finalist the previous week in Khimki, the Canadian’s nerve was steady as she defeated the qualifier Lim in the final for her first ever Category 1 singles win.
Russian victory in both doubles draws brought some joy to the spectators. Top boys’ seeds Nikita Bochkarev & Yaroslav Demin defeated Serbian third seeds Luka Jovanovic & Nikola Zekic 6-3 6-3 in their final. The spoils finally came for Andreeva as she won the doubles with her compatriot, Nadezda Khalturina, over fellow Russians Anastasiia Gureva & Tatiana Muzykantskaya 6-1 6-2.
16 & Under
The 18th edition of the Tennisline Cup also took place last week where Czech players dominated the podium at their home event in Milovice. The Category 2 16 & under tournament saw both singles finals end in straight sets wins as Kristian Kubik beat Czech compatriot Daniel Siniakov 6-3 6-3 for the boys’ title, while Barbora Palicova beat Poland’s Ada Piestrzynska 6-1 6-4 to take the girls’ crown. The singles wins marked double victories for each, with Kubik having teamed with Adam Jurajda for the boys’ doubles titles, while Palicova won the girls’ title the previous day with Linda Noskova.
Both singles champions are proving adept at winning Tennis Europe Junior Tour events in their home country, with Palicova having won last year in Prague, Jablonec and Hradek nad Nisou, while Kubik also has won five doubles and one singles title since 2014.
Last week the 14&U O1 Properties Christmas Cup was held in Khimki, raising the curtain on the new year in style with the fifth edition of the Category 1 tournament that was full of side-events and fun for the players. Van Assche again featured prominently, falling in the semi-finals to Constantinos Koshis. The Cypriot went down in a three-set final to local player Mikhail Gorokhov 6-1 2-6 6-3. Another local top seed lifted the trophy in the girls’ singles, when Tennis Europe Junior Masters champion Diana Shnaider defeated Plekhanova 6-1 6-2. The boys’ doubles crown went to Matthew William Donald (CZE) & Kohsis, while Plekhanova & Khalturina teamed up to win the girls’ doubles trophy.
After an exciting start to the year in Russia, where many players have signalled their promise, we can now look ahead to England. The Junior International in Bolton is already under way, with the promise of many more interesting matches to come as the top 14 & Under players continue to the road to Les Petits As in Tarbes in 10 days. You can follow live scores throughout the week from Bolton here.
Several Category 3 events have also been staged since the beginning of the year. You can check the full lists of winners from all events here.