Savva Rybkin and Anna Pushkareva have stamped their authority on the #TEJT by winning the prestigious Super Category Kungens Kanna (boys’) and Drotningen Pris (girls’) titles at the Royal tennis Hall in Stockholm, Sweden.
It was the first major title on the tour for Rybkin, while for Pushkareva this is her second major trophy of the season, one she can now add to her mantelpiece along with her previous Super Category spoils from Les Petits As. The victory was twice as sweet for Pushkareva, as she also took the doubles title. They join a fabled list of junior champions such as Martin Landaluce as well as Linda and Brenda Fruhvirtova who have also held aloft this famed trophy.
Plenty of fanfare accompanied the year’s second Super Category event which returned to its traditional February slot on the #TEJT calendar. There was much-deserved pre-tournament hype surrounding the plethora of events taking place on the first weekend, befitting a tournament of this stature. The players’ lounge was a hub where the players could unwind, offering board games, video games and a chill zone. Plenty more was on offer, including, of course, a welcome goodie bag, warm-up and gym area and practice courts, perfect for players in the pre-tournament qualifying event.
To top it all off, more than 70 players attended yet another session of the Tennis Europe Junior School before the tournament. Our staff as well as members from the International Tennis Integrity Agency (ITIA) were on hand to give a talk to the players about important matters such as anti-doping, anti-corruption and media.
Getting down to business, the tournament got off to a flying start for main draw action on Tuesday. Plenty of matches were on offer, boosted by the re-launch of the Tennis Europe app featuring live streaming direct from Stockholm. Wednesday night was the participants’ time to have some fun at the players party. However girls’ second seed, Sofie Hettlerova (CZE), was upset the next day in round 3 by unseeded Canadian and eventual semifinalist Joyce Geng, as was another 2022 Junior Masters participant, Slovakian Kali Supova . The only significant upset in the boys’ draw was also in round 3, where Tim Essonne doubles winner Filip Ladman (CZE), seeded sixth in Stockholm, fell to a lower seed, Vuk Krstajic (MNE).
The event has its own “Last 8 club” modeled on that of Wimbledon’s club of the same name. A bevy of top names were welcomed to the club and gifted their traditional t-shirts while going down in the history books, along with the added privilege of being able to fight it out for a spot in the coveted final.
Girls Last 8
Ksenia Efremova  def Lucie Slamenikova 
Marilyn Van Brempt  (BEL) def Veronika Sekerkova  (CZE)
Anna Pushkareva  def Sofia Kryvoruchko (UKR)
Joyce Geng (CAN) def Carla Vazquez Alcudia  (ESP)
Boys last 8
Mark Ceban  (GBR) def Mustafa Ege Sik  (TUR)
Savva Rybkin  def Vuk Krstajic  (MNE)
Artem Semenov def Kaan Isik Kosaner  (TUR)
Jan Urbanski  (POL) def Marco Ontiveros Castro  (GER)
Mark Ceban and Ksenia Efremova were the big names coming into the event. They carried, perhaps, the weight of expectation which allowed Rybkin and Pushkareva to glide through the draws with less pressure and fearless hitting.
Although Pushkareva was the statistical underdog in the final against Efremova, predictions were for an even tussle given there was little between them in the seedings and their recent run of form. Furthermore, both were coming off big wins in France; Pushkareva won in Tarbes at the end of January and Efremova was fresh off a win at the Category 1 Tim Essonne event last week. All Pushkareva needed was a break in each set to seal the victory, although the 6-4 6-4 scoreline was not as straightforward as the scoreboard may indicate. The match was highlighted by plenty of hard-hitting back-court rallies and big shots, punctuated by Pushkareva’s regular ventures to the net to keep Efremova on the back foot. It worked. Sealing the deal on a fourth match point just shy of the two-hour mark, Pushkareva punished an Efremova second serve with a forehand down-the-line winner, claiming her second Super Category of the year while also bettering her runner-up finish in Stockholm last year.
Les Petit As champion Ceban came into his semifinal match on an 18-match winning streak, having won 32 of his last 33 matches on the #TEJT, going all the way back to August 2022. In what has been a remarkable run, the Brit suffered only his second loss in his last 34 singles matches. His hopes of a second major this season were nixed, as he went down to an inspired fourth seed and the eventual champion. Rybkin took the match 6-3 7-6(3), setting up a final against Pole Jan Urbanski.
In another final full of long rallies and big hitting, it was Urbanski who drew first blood, trumping Rybkin in the first set tie-break to edge ahead. As the match wore on his physical condition seemed to wither, so much so that he was unable to finish the match. Nevertheless, nothing can diminish Rybkin’s accomplishment. The winner of the inaugural 12&U festival in 2021 has only been going from strength to strength since then. He earned seven titles in 2022 as well as a runner-up berth at Category 1 Tim Essonne last week. Now with a Super Category title under his belt and having beaten top seed Mark Ceban along the way, this might just be the beginning of a burgeoning rivalry on the #TEJT, as the pair battle for the top spot in the rankings.
Girls’ Doubles final:
Victoria Luiza Barros (BRA) & Anna Pushkareva def Kali Supova (SVK) & Melis Yildirim (TUR) 6-2 6-7(1) 10-5.
Boys’ Doubles final:
Marco Ontiveros Castro (GER) & Vincent Jakob Reisach (GER) def Tomas Krejci (CZE) & Jakub Kusy (CZE) 3-6 7-5 10-7.
Elsewhere on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour last week:
14&U Cat.2 | Baseline Cup, Banska Bystrica (SVK)
In what is always a special moment, Jan Skrzynski (POL) won his maiden singles title while Mariia Makarova won her second.
14&U Cat.3 | Cup der Nordverbande, Isernhagen (GER)
Alexander Kunitsyn and Ida Wobker (GER) were the boys’ and girls’ champs at the, with both players claiming their first ever 14&U titles, having already tasted success on the 12&U circuit.
14&U Cat.3 | Bad Waltersdorf 2023, Bad Waltersdorf (AUT)
More breakthroughs, as Patrick Semenic (SLO) and Isabella Angelina Abendroth (GER) were also first-time 14&U singles champs, with both players posting straight sets wins in their finals.
14&U Cat.3 | Ahmet Erguden Cup, Antalya (TUR)
Victoria Ostroukh won the girls’ title while local Mehmet Toprak Ercin won both the singles and doubles.
14&U Cat.3 | Sobota Cup, Sobota (POL)
Artsiom Askirka and Polina Skliar (UKR) were the singles champs, with Skliar also winning the doubles.
12&U Cat.2 + 14&U Cat.3 | Focus/Robey Open, Rotterdam (NED)
Rafael Pagonis (GRE) and Pippa Fennis (NED) were victorious in the 12&U event, while honours in the 14&U tournament went to Stan Put (NED) and Andrea Olariu (ROU)
For full results from last week, click here. For information on this week's events on the Junior Tour calendar, click here.
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