The 12 & Under Festival is over for another year. Anton Kahlig (AUT) and Keisija Berzina (LAT) are celebrating as champions of the festival’s second edition, after a memorable week at the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca, Spain. | 📸 Photo Gallery
29 Tennis Europe member nations were represented by the 64 players during the season-ending tournament. Of the qualified players, 49 won or were runner-up at a Category 1 tournament in 2022, while the others received wildcards.
For the first part of the competition, the 32 boys and 32 girls were divided into 8 groups of four. Following the round-robin stage, the winner of each group qualified for the quarter finals.
Besides giving the players an early opportunity to get an experience of the look and feel of a professional tournament, the organisers ensured the players would enjoy a true Festival atmosphere, with a wide range of activities taking place throughout the week. The busy agenda included visits to the Rafa Nadal Museum, sports events, a players’ party, and a well-attended introductory session of the Tennis Europe Junior School. Both live streaming and live scores were available throughout the week for each match.
Austria’s Anton Kahlig played against local favorite Izan Banares Lasala in the boys’ final. Kahlig proved to be more consistent throughout the entire match, while the Spaniard made more errors, despite being physically stronger. Leading 7-5 5-2, Kahlig seemed to have relaxed a bit, offering his opponent the chance to get back in the game and hope for a comeback. However, at 5-4 he regained his focus and quickly won the game, match and tournament. With the win, Kahlig ends a great year on the Junior Tour, in which he played 45 matches and won four 12 & Under finals.
The girls’ final was played between Keisija Berzina and Andreea Olariu (ROU). The two players were no strangers on the court, as they recently teamed up for a doubles tournament in France, but they had never played singles against each other. Olariu won a 14 & Under tournament held at the same venue the week before the festival, so she felt comfortable enough to breeze through this tournament. Berzina, on the other hand, had a more difficult road to the final, playing three consecutive battles with a match tiebreak. Even so, she has plenty of energy and was not intimidated by the taller Romanian. Barzina wrapped up an intense first set, which lasted almost an hour, whereas the second one concluded the tournament in just 30 minutes. This was the third tournament win for Berzina in 2022, a year in which she also started competing in 14 & Under events.
The boys’ doubles final saw Pavel Oliver Dufek & Matyas Marsik (CZE) vs. Lucas Alexandru Milos & Andrei Radu (ROU). Only a few points made the difference between the two teams, the Czechs ending triumphantly after a 7-5 4-6 10-2 match.
Lea Haider-Maurer and Anna Pircher from Austria defeated Tea Kovacevic (BIH) and Sara Mitevska (MKD) in the doubles final. The Austrian girls had a tough road through the tournament, just scraping through their opening match against Czechs Jana Kovackova and Katerina Zajickova 7-6(5) 1-6 11-9. However, by the time they reached the final they were in dominant form, securing the title in less than one hour, 6-1 6-2.
Rafael Nadal sent a message of congratulations and encouragement to all the players, saying “I would like to congratulate all of you who qualified to play in this tournament at the Academy. I know that the whole team that makes this event possible has put a lot of effort in organizing it, so I hope you will take advantage of it. I also hope you had a great time competing, not only for yourselves, but also for your countries. That is something that I have always loved and enjoyed throughout my career, because to achieve success you have to work as a team, make sacrifices and not think only of yourself. My wish is that you have enjoyed Mallorca, that you have enjoyed the facilities and that soon we will be able to see you playing here. I wish you all the best for the future in Tennis Europe tournaments and in your careers”