Les Petits As, arguably the world’s most important 14 & Under tennis event, has crowned new champions. Mathilde Ngijol-Carré won the girls’ tournament, becoming the first home player to win since Emmanuellle Derly in 1984. Meanwhile, in the boys’ event, current Tennis Europe Junior Tour #1 Maxim Mrva took the winner’s trophy, stamping his authority on the week-to-week rankings as well as in the Race to Monte-Carlo, where he is already guaranteed a spot at next month’s Tennis Europe Junior Masters.
The Early Rounds
Having been pushed back from its traditional midwinter calendar slot due to the pandemic, this year’s Les Petits As took place in very different conditions, with ski wear replaced by flip-flops and shorts.
The heat, the summer and the postponement all meant one thing: the players were raring to compete at the Super Category event. After two days of French qualifying and two more days of international qualifying, the main draw kicked off with a slew of seeds falling by the wayside. Those early upsets came in the form of boys’ sixth seed Ognjen Milic (SRB), third seed Egor Gorin (RUS) and second seed Timofei Derepasko (RUS), all of whom were on the sidelines after round 3.
Girls’ top seed Yeva Galievska (UKR) lasted two just rounds, as did fourth seed Lucia Hradecka (CZE). Second seed and third in the Race Julia Stusek (GER) had to give a walkover to her opponent in round two.
Despite these surprises, it was the perfect moment for others to shine: British wildcard Hannah Klugman was a surprising semi-finalist, accounting for the promising Russian Ksenia Efremova before going down to the eventual champion. A strong squad of American players showcased the talent from across the pond, with Darwin Blanch and Matisse Farzam making the boys semis, while Claire An reached the same stage of the girls’ event.
Maxim Mrva and Federico Cinà have been two of the Tour’s standout players this year, and have consistently clashed at the biggest events. The fifth match-up between the two in 2021 did not disappoint in terms of quality. But after splitting the first two sets, Mrva raced to the last six games as his Italian opponent was affected by an abdominal injury in the decider.
The 6-3 3-6 6-0 win moves Mrva ahead 3-2 in their head-to-head. Both players had won two Tour titles this season before today, and the pair strengthen their positions as the top two in the Race to Monte-Carlo.
The girls’ final was another tight battle, with Mathilde Ngijol Carré having to fight back from being one set down against Isareli Mika Buchnik to take the title 4-6 6-2 6-1. Already a Category 1 winner in Piestany earlier in the season, Ngijol Carré’s first Super Category title will catapult her into contention for a spot at the Junior Masters in Monaco.
Boys’ final: Federico Cinà & Andrea De Marchi (ITA) def. Felix Alopaeus & Oskari Paldanius (FIN) 6-7(5) 6-3 12-10
Girls’ final: Claire An & Emily Deming (USA) def. Flora Johnson & Hephzibah Oluwadare (GBR) 6-4 6-1
In addition to the flurry of activity on the first day and a number of surprises throughout the event, there was also an amazing welcome ceremony on day two. Players paraded into the center court to the sound of music and much fanfare, waving their national flags and ready to play their hearts out.
It was a special and emotional ceremony, with the tournament directors thanking the players for their patience as well as all the organizers and collaborators that supported the event during the postponement. The opening ceremony also served as a reminder to everybody about the importance of this tournament and the Junior Tour in general as a training ground for future stars.
The event’s social media platforms highlighted the fact that US Open champion Emma Raducanu lost in the first round of Tarbes two years in a row. Let that be a motivation for any young player aiming for greatness.
In addition to the top-class social media content on offer from the tournament, fans could also follow an impressive high-definition live streaming of matches from three show courts, made available throughout the event on their website.
This year’s summer edition of the tournament certainly had a unique flavour. But there will be a rapid turnaround, as in a mere four months down the road we look forward to the next edition, due to take place in its traditional week in January. This will mark the tournament's 40th year and there is no doubt that it will be extra-special.
📷 Photo Gallery 1 | 📷 Photo Gallery 2
Category 2: Jelgava Open 2021 | Jelgava (LAT), 16 & Under
At the week’s sole Category 2 event, 16 & Under Race to Monte-Carlo leader Tomasz Berkieta put more space between himself and the chasing pack after storming to his third title of the year. Playing in his fourth singles final of 2021, the Pole beat Tikhon Federov (BLR) 6-3 6-1. Meanwhile, Ekaterina Ivanova (RUS) beat Sofya Gapankova (BLR) 6-3 7-6(8) in the girls’ final to claim her second title of the year.
Boys doubles champions: Ruslan Kastsiukevich (BLR) & Arturs Zagars (LAT)
Girls’ doubles champions: Varava Bernovich (BLR) & Sofya Gapankova (BLR)
For all this week's Tennis Europe Junior Tour final results, click here. This week, the Tour moves on with another 11 tournaments across the region, headlined by the Super Category 14 & Under Maia International in Portugal. For all the latest results, click here.