Savva Rybkin (RUS) and Veronika Sekerkova (CZE) are the inaugural 12 & Under Festival champions in both singles and doubles. | 📷 Photo Gallery
After several days of bright Mallorcan sunshine, the tournament ended as it began, on the brand new indoor courts of the Rafa Nadal Academy.
Unseeded Svit Suljic of Slovenia roared out of the blocks in the boys’ final, holding his first set point after just 23 minutes before Rybkin broke back to claim his only game of the set. Once he was on the scoreboard, the momentum gradually swung in the Russian’s favour and he edged a tight second set 6-4 to level the match. The eighth seed continued to enjoy the upper hand in the match tie-break, eventually claiming the title with a drive volley on his second match point, 10-8.
The girls’ final between Sekerkova and Serbia’s Luna Vujovic was not as one-sided as the 6-1 6-3 score line might suggest, with the first set alone taking 50 minutes. The players were level until the seventh game of the second set, when Sekerkova scored the decisive break. The Czech player ends her season with a stunning 56-4 win/loss record, having won a Junior Tour-leading four Category 1 12 & Under and two Category 3 14 & Under tournaments, in addition to the Festival title.
Both champions returned to the court after their singles wins to add doubles titles. Rybkin teamed with Alexey Frolov to beat Mustafa Ege Sik (TUR) & Leon Sloboda (SVK) for the loss of just two games. Not to be outdone, Sekerkova partnered Sofie Hettlerova to victory over Milla Kotamaeki (FIN) & Kiira Pashkov (EST) by the exact same scoreline, 4-2 4-0.
32 boys and 32 girls from a total of 31 Tennis Europe nations were invited to compete at the event based on their results during the 2021 season. The format saw each singles draw divided into 8 round-robin groups of four players, the winner of each of which progressed to Thursday’s quarter finals. The players received an early taste of life at a professionally-run tournament, with live streaming of matches, umpires and even line judges during the latter stages of the tournament.
In addition to showcasing Europe’s finest 12 & Under talent, the event was held in a true festival atmosphere, with a range of off-court educational and leisure activities taking place each day to keep the players entertained. Amongst the attractions were a visit to the Rafa Nadal Museum, an introduction to the Tennis Europe Junior School, and a Question & Answer session with legendary coach Toni Nadal.
Tennis Europe CEO Thomas Hammerl commented, “This has been an unforgettable event for the players and a true season-ending highlight for the best players of the Junior Tour’s 12 & Under circuit. On behalf of Tennis Europe I’d like to thank our hosts at the Rafa Nadal Academy for their extraordinary efforts to ensure a flawless tournament. The feedback from players, coaches and parents has been extremely positive and we’re already looking forward to the second edition!”
Rafa Nadal sent a message to the players, saying “I’d like to congratulate all of the players that made it to compete here in Manacor. As a former player of Tennis Europe 12 & Under events myself, I remember very well how exciting it feels to play in these first international tournaments. I am happy that the new indoor courts of the academy were used for the first time for this event and I hope the players enjoyed our facilities and all the activities. Everybody here has been impressed by the positive attitudes and good sportsmanship on court all week. I look forward to following the progress of the players in the future.”