The British girls and the Italian boys teams have scored their first ever wins in the nine-year history of the tournament’s 12 & Under event. Both teams have come close on two previous occasions; the girls were pipped at the post in 2015 and 2018, while the boys had to make do with the silver medals in 2018 and 2019. The breakthrough wins end Russia and Czech Republic’s recent dominance of the 12 & under event, with the two nations sharing the trophies over the past four years.
The win was particularly significant for Britain, as it marks a first ever girls’ title in the Winter Cups for Team GB across all age categories. The British boys won the 12 & Under event in 2013, and have a handful of titles in the other age categories.
Road to the Finals
The girls from Great Britain came into the finals with an impressive 3-0 win over hosts France in the first tie in Feucherolles in Group C qualifying. They backed this up with another dominant performance, this time over Hungary. In the qualifying final they went down 1-2 to Poland, but this was enough to book them a spot in the finals on home soil in Sunderland, where the final rounds have been held since 2015.
The first tie of the final rounds was against the Czech Republic. After a shaky start, the home team came back from a 0-1 deficit to take the doubles and move on to the semi-finals. There, Great Britain defeated Belarus to set up a clash against the defending champions, Russia.
The Italian boys also played in Group C qualifying, this time in Tallinn, Estonia. They won their opening ties against Ukraine and Slovakia by the same 3-0 score line. In the qualifying final, they beat France in a nail-biting 10-6 championship tiebreak win in the deciding doubles rubber to finish on top of the group.
At the final rounds in Veska, Czech Republic, they got their campaign off and running with a 2-1 win over Bulgaria. In the semi-finals they saw off the Netherlands by the same score to progress to the final where they would meet first-time 12 & Under finalists Slovenia.
GIRLS: Sunderland, Great Britain
Great Britain vs Russia | Photos
The Russians have been a dominating force in this event, having won two of the last three titles in this age group. The Brits were not daunted, however, and playing in front of a supportive local crowd certainly helped fire them up. In the first rubber, Amalia Widdowson, after a tough start, got a 7-6(4) 6-3 win over Polina Vimba. Hannah Klugman then came out to consolidate that win with a 6-4 6-1 dismissal of Daria Koreshkova, thus confirming a British victory for the first time ever in this event. Despite having been picked for earlier doubles rubbers, Sophie Bekker did not play on this occasion. Nevertheless, the Brits made it a clean sweep, with Klugson & Widdowman’s 7-5 6-4 win over Koreshkova & Marta Mariia Makarova shutting out the defending champions for a 3-0 triumph.
BOYS: Veska, Czech Republic
Italy vs Slovenia | Photos
Starting the final with the 0-1 deficit was not ideal for the Italians as Vito Antonio Darderi went down to Ziga Sesko. Then, Noah Canonico got the tie back on track with his own straight sets win over Luka Petrovic. It all came down to the deciding doubles rubber where Rafael Ciurnelli & Darderi scored a 6-2 6-0 win over Sesko & Svit Zuljic to confirm an Italian victory. The win was extra sweet for the Italians, who made it third time lucky in the final, clinching the gold medals after runner-up spots in the last two editions.
1. Great Britain, 2. Russia, 3. Poland, 4. Belarus, 5. Czech Republic, 6. Belgium, 7. Latvia, 8. Italy
1. Italy, 2. Slovenia, 3. Netherlands, 4. France, 5. Czech Republic, 6. Romania, 7. Russia, 8. Bulgaria
Full draws and results