Tennis Europe Junior Tour

Popovic & Palecek boost Masters hopes with wins in Barcelona

Popovic & Palecek boost Masters hopes with wins in Barcelona

There were more interesting battles as the Race to the Junior Masters continued last week in Spain, with many of the leading contenders in action. With lots of players still in the running to qualify, and several of those making the semis or better, the top end of the Race will certainly be shaken up once updated on Tuesday.

XVI Memorial Nacho Juncosa - Barcelona, Spain (16 & Under)

It was a great week under the Spanish sun for Serbian players as Stefan Popovic and Nikol Palecek, who claimed the boys’ and girls’ titles at the Category 1 Torneo Internacional De Tenis Sub 16 XVI Memorial Nacho Juncosa in the Catalan capital.

With top seed Daniel Linkuns-Morozovs retiring with a back injury during his first-round match, the top half of the draw was blown wide open. Unseeded local David Naharro progressed to the semi-finals upon defeating eighth seeded Bulgarian Nikolay Nedelchev in the quarters, but then fell to the eventual champion. Lingering at number nine in the Race, second seed Marco Topo’s second round exit might well make his next tournament, the category 1 Sanchez Casal Youth Cup, a case of make-or-break in his quest to qualify for the Junior Masters, as he is likely to be overtaken after good performances from several of his rivals for the spot this week. Mathias Musil and Drazen Petrovic were the two seeds who did progress to the semis in the bottom half of the draw and will increase their standings from 14 and 12 respectively, when the Race is updated on Tuesday. Petrovic fought back for a win after losing the first set 6-1 only to run into a powerhouse Popovic in the final, where the Serb claimed the title with ease in a 6-0 6-2 win. This is his fourth final and second title of the year. This important win, his first Category 1 trophy of 2018, could be key to securing a place amongst the elite Tennis Europe Junior Tour players in Reggio Calabria next month.

Second seed Palecek breezed through her early round matches. Anna Panchartek retired during the second set of their semi-final encounter giving the Serb a pass into the final, although Palecek was already leading 6-1 2-0. Top seeded Croat Tara Wurth had a tough battle in her semi against Palecek’s compatriot Darja Survidjonkova, eventually going down 7-6 in the third, thus setting up an all-Serbian final. After the battle in the semi, the third seed went down to Palecek, although she did put up some resistance in the second set. It was not enough, however, and the 6-2 7-5 win gave Palecek her first title of the season, having previously been runner-up on four occasions. Both finalists will consolidate their places within the top 8 as a result of their performances. The last remaining Category 1 tournament, also in Barcelona, promises to be exciting, not least because it is the players’ last chance to accrue Race points before the Junior Masters in early October.

The Serbian duo of Popovic & Topo, the top seeds, were held at bay in the doubles final by the Dutch-Czech combination of Frank Jonker & Musil 7-6(5) 6-3. The girls’ singles semi-finalists, Panchartek & Wurth, combined to defeat Palecek & Laia Petretic (FRA) in a final that went all the way, winning 3-6 6-2 10-8.

Category 2

ATA Junior Trophy - Klosters, Switzerland (14 & Under, Cat. 2)

Second seeded Swiss Patrick Schoen upset the top seed Luka Jovanovic 6-3 6-2 in the final, his third singles win of the year and second Category 2 win. Top seeded girl Celine Naef was upset 6-3 6-3 in the final by second seeded Pole Malwina Rowinska. At number 12 in the Race and ready to pounce, the Swiss player would have been hoping for a win, as a little more than 100 points would put her into the top 6.

Jovanovic did take home silverware, teaming with Austrian Daniel Zimmermann to win the boys’ doubles, while Rowinska claimed a double win in Klosters, taking home the girls’ doubles trophy with her partner Lucie Havlickova (CZE).

For full results in all events and categories here and elsewhere from this past week, please click here, or to view the week's photo galleries, click here.  

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