Tennis Europe Junior Tour
Lilov & Eala win at Les Petits As
28 January 2018 - Photo: Victor Lilov celebrates his win © tennisfoto.net
The 36th edition of the celebrated Les Petits As Mondial Lacoste event got underway this week with a new crop of youngsters hoping to add their names to the illustrious list of past champions. Amongst a field of the world's best 14 & Under players, Victor Lilov and Alexandra Eala stole the headlines at this year’s tournament, setting themselves up as players to watch. Lilov, particularly, is on a scintillating run, having now won two Category 1 events in as many weeks.
In the boys’ event, the top seed Mikhail Gorokhov (RUS) got off to a shaky start against the unseeded Serbian Nicola Zekic with a three set win, after which he saw off two French players in succession, although he faced a battle against William Jucha. In the quarterfinals he blasted past sixth seeded Croatian Mili Poljicak with a straight sets victory, which then put him on track for a clash against the seventh-seeded Matthew William Donald (CZE) who he beat in even more emphatic fashion. Last week’s champion in Bolton, Victor Lilov, the fifth seed, came through some very tough matches to reach his second Category 1 final in as many weeks. Indeed, his route to the semi-finals was by no means a cakewalk, having been pushed to a deciding set in all but one of his matches.
With huge audiences watching the action throughout the week at the venue and online, the final was played in front of a packed house. It proved to be a tight encounter, with Lilov scoring a break to seal the first set 6-4. The Russian edged ahead in the second set, only to be brought back to 5-5. With both players holding serve comfortably the match went to a tiebreak and with a backhand that sailed long off the Russian’s racquet, the title went to the Bulgarian-American 6-4 7-6(1).
The girls event contained a number of big draw cards including, the top seeded Russian Tennis Europe Junior Masters champion, Diana Schnaider, as well as her compatriot, the second seed Erika Andreeva. However all eyes in the first round were on unseeded local player by the name of Maelie Monfils. Tweets, messages and cheers from the crowd were all going the way of the younger sibling of the popular French ATP player. Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough, as she fell at the first hurdle, with her wildcard Polish opponent, Natalia Michta, playing stronger tennis. Oceane Babel was another local hope who failed to make inroads, also making a first round exit.
The Russians were not having much better luck, as the top seed was taken out in the quarterfinals by seventh seeded Czech Linda Noskova, while Andreeva lost in the second round. The Czech player was in dazzling form, making her way to the final having not dropped a single set. In her semi-final match she overcame the recent winner from Bolton, Katja Wiersholm, with 4 games being all the American could muster. The bottom half of the draw was quickly torn wide apart. Andreeva fell to Belgian qualifier Sofia Costoulas who was then quickly dealt with by Alexandra Eala of the Philippines. The wildcard recipient, part of last year’s Tennis Europe Junior Tour Doubles Team of the year, took advantage of her fantastic form to then go on to beat unseeded Japanese Kyoka Kubo followed by Hungarian 13th seed Katerina Dimitrova, setting up a final against Noskova.
The final proved to be a classic battle, with Noskova first to make a hit, taking a close first set. The Filipina struck back to take the second set. The match went down to the wire, with Eala getting the upper hand in the third set tiebreaker and closing out the match 5-7 6-3 7-6(5) thanks to a Noskova error.
In the girls’ doubles, Noskova got the better of Schnaider yet again as they met in the second round with their respective partners. Noskova and compatriot Linda Fruhvirtova made their way to the final, where they ran away with the trophy. In the decider, they faced American wildcards Robin Montgomery & Katrina Scott. After a 7-6(6) 6-3 win, the Czech pair were able to hold the trophy aloft, with the match being a great precursor to the following day’s final featuring Noskova.
The boys’ doubles title went to Lilov & Evan Wen (USA) who made up for their loss in last week’s Bolton final with a win in Tarbes. The pair were emphatic victors over the Italian wildcards Niccolo Ciavarella & Daniele Minighini, with a thumping 6-0 6-3 win in the final.
Combining the wins and runners up posts both here and in Bolton last week, Lilov’s ranking is set to shoot up even further. He is definitely a player to watch this year and one that might have some of the higher ranked opponents wary.
This week also saw the 12&U Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD already under way. The qualifying events took place this week, with the 14&U and the 16&U events kicking off next week. Last year’s champions the Czech Republic (boys) and Russia (girls) are each through to the final rounds, where they will attempt to defend their titles against 7 other finalists. Click here for all the qualifying results.