Olga Fridman & Mikael Yemer both fought back from a set down to claim their first European Championship titles on Sunday, underlining their status as two of the rising stars of junior tennis.
Yemer of Sweden continued his excellent run this season by claiming the boys’ 14 & Under title with a hard-fought victory over Casper Ruud.
Seeded third, Yemer had advanced to the finals with comfortable wins over fellow Top Ten players Samuel Ferguson (GBR) and Mate Valkusz (HUN) in the quarter and semi-finals. In the top half of the draw, unseeded Ruud twice had to recover from the loss of a first set tie break to progress through the early rounds before hitting his stride in despatching seeds Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) and Akos Kotorman (HUN) for the loss of just five games each.
With the Championships played on clay, Sunday’s play was moved indoors due to heavy rain in Pilzen, though the Scandinavian players are both more than accustomed to indoor courts. Ruud started the match strongly, recovering from a break down to capture the first set 6-4. Yemer recovered in style from losing his first set of the tournament, rallying to record 6-3 wins in each of the remaining sets to deny Ruud the honour of being the first Norwegian ever to win a European Junior Championship title.
Sweden has won the 14 & Under title more times than any other nation, with 11 titles in the 37 editions of the competition, though they have had a long wait for a new winner, with Ymer the first Swede to lift the trophy since Thomas Johansson in 1989. He will also return to the #1 spot in the Tennis Europe Junior Tour rankings on Tuesday, while Ruud is set to smash his previous best ranking of #21 and enter the Top Ten.
The boys’ doubles went to Akos Kotorman and Mate Valkusz, who became just the second Hungarian team ever to win the title, following Gergely Kisgyörgy & Atilla Savolt in 1990. They beat Ergi Kirkin & Alp Sentay, who can take some consolation from being the first Turkish players ever to reach a European Championships final, 6-3 6-2.
Olga Fridman underlined her status as the dominant player on the 14 & Under circuit by winning the girls’ event to secure her fourth tournament win of 2012 so far, with her other three wins all being Category 1 events.
Having progressed through the draw with some ease, losing just four games in her first four matches before beating 10th seed Julia Payola (ESP) and #3 Aleksandra Pospelova (RUS) comfortably, Fridman was made to work hard for victory by her final opponent, fourth-seeded Dalma Galfi of Hungary.
Galfi herself had not been stretched until a three-set semi-final with unseeded German Katharina Gerlach, and she began the final strongly, taking the first set 6-4. She was agonisingly close to victory in the second but the top seed snatched it 7-5, before cruising through the decider 6-2 to become the first Ukrainian winner of the European 14 & Under title.
Fridman now has an unbeaten streak of 18 matches in 14 & under events, and has also made an impact in the 16 & Under tournaments that she has competed in this season, reaching the semifinals in Milan as well as two quarterfinals in Turkey. She stretches her lead at the top of the rankings, where she is likely to stay until the end of the season. Galfi has reached the final of her last six events, winning three, and is chasing close behind in the rankings.
The girls’ doubles went to Slovakian pair Viktoria Kuzmova & Tereza Mihalikova, 6-2 6-2 winners Vera Lapko & Hanna Yedzelkina of Belarus.
The winner and runner-up from both the boys’ and girls’ events automatically qualify to participate in the elite Tennis Europe Junior Masters event which brings the Junior Tour season to a close at the beginning of October.
Draws and Results
Boys Singles | Boys Doubles | Girls Singles | Girls Doubles | Photos