Tennis Europe Junior Tour
Croatia and Czech Republic crowned 14&U Winter Cups champions
18 February 2018 - Photo: Girls' champions Czech Republic in Rakovnik. Photo: tennisfoto.net
The Croatia boys’ team scored a comeback win in the final to claim their first ever Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD 14 & Under title, while the girls from the Czech Republic took advantage of playing on home soil to clinch a first win since 2013. It is their eighth win overall (ninth if a win as part of Czechoslovakia in 1993 is included).
In the boys’ event, there was no luck for the hosts, the Czech Republic, who were knocked out 3-0 by Italy in the first round in Veska. They were joined in their semi-final by Poland, who had earlier beaten Great Britain. The other semi-final was between Croatia – first round winners over the top seeded French team - and Switzerland. The match went to the wire and was eventually won by Croatia by two rubbers to one in a champions’ tie-break in the deciding doubles.
Italy was making its second appearance in the final in three years, having defeated the Czech Republic in the 2016 final. However, it was Croatia’s first ever appearance in a final in this category and they got off to a shaky start as Dino Prizmic went down in straight sets to Peter Buldorini 6-2 6-4. Mili Poljicak then pulled things even with his own easy win over Niccolo Ciavarella in 76 minutes. The Croats teamed up against Ciavarella and Daniele Minighini for a tight come-from-behind win to seal the victory 7-5 7-6(3) to claim their first ever title in this category of the sport’s biggest indoor junior team event.
The girls’ final in Rakovnik was a highly-anticipated match between the top seeds, Russia, and the host nation, second seeded Czech Republic. The last time the teams met in the final was in 2013 when the Czechs emerged victorious. Since then, Russia has featured in the final three out of the past four years, last winning in 2014.
The teams progressed to the semi-finals after posting 3-0 first-round wins over Sweden and Belarus respectively. The semi-final ties proved to be more challenging, with both teams being forced to win deciding doubles rubbers as Russia came from behind to beat Poland and the Czechs edged past Great Britain.
To the delight of the home crowd in Rakovnik, after almost six hours of play the final went the way of the Czechs. Linda Fruhvirtova fought back from the loss of the first set to give the hosts the lead with a 3-6 6-3 6-3 win over Erika Andreeva, maintaining her unbeaten record at this year’s Winter Cup finals in the process. Current Tennis Europe Junior Tour #1 Diana Schnaider kept Russian hopes alive with a battling 4-6 6-4 6-3 win over Linda Noskova to level the tie. After a short break, the four players returned to the court with the Czech pair claiming a 7-5 6-3 win in the decisive doubles match to secure the trophy.