American players took centre stage at this year’s Nike Junior International Bolton Teen Tennis, sweeping the board in almost all events in the north-western English town near Manchester. Local players did find some joy however, in this prestigious event that has been running for 23 years. The 14 and Under tournament is an important Category 1 event that has seen the likes of Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki grace its courts.
The singles events were dominated by the American visitors. All four boys’ semi-finalists, and three of the girls’ hailed from the States. It was a similar story in the doubles, with the girls’ winners taking their trophies back across the Atlantic, as did the runners up in the boys’.
The girls’ draw was a combination of by-the-book and storybook endings. The top half of the draw saw routine results, with number one seeded Cori Gauff progressing to the final without the loss of a set. However, the bottom half of the draw saw the unseeded Alexandra Yepifanova weave her way through the draw into the final. Also maintaining a clean sheet, she had methodically done away with the fourteenth, third, fifth and second seeds en route. The final hurdle against the top seed was one ask too many however. Although she put up a tough fight in the first set, Gauff was simply too good in the second, taking the title 7-5 6-2.
In the boys’ event, British number one seed Derrick Chen lost his first match to Brazilian qualifier Pedro Boscardin Dias who was, in turn, taken out by eventual finalist Martin Damm, seeded seventh. Damm then accounted for fellow American Alexander Bernard 7-5 in the third set. On the other side of the draw, the unseeded Aidan Mayo defeated local player Jack Pinnington Jones for the loss of just two games to set up a semi-final clash against fourth seed Toby Alex Kodat. The semi was a straightforward affair, with Kodat winning in straight sets, and thus booking a spot in the final. It started off, fairly even, with neither player giving anything away. One break was all Kodat needed to take the set 7-5. With that psychological advantage, he gained momentum and pulled away taking the second set, and the trophy, 6-0 in the second set.
In the doubles, Gauff earned another trophy. She teamed with compatriot Charlotte Owensby to take out the title over French pair Flavie Brugnone & Anaelle Leclercq. Meanwhile, in the boy’s doubles, the American pair of Martin Damm & Aidan Mayo were relegated to the runners up position by the British pairing of Joel Pierleoni & Jack Pinnington Jones.
Never in the tournament’s history has there been such a whitewash of winners, finalists and semifinalists from the same country. The strong American squad will now join many of the world’s other best 14 & Under players in Tarbes this week for ‘Les Petits As’; one of the most coveted crowns in junior tennis.
Four Category 2 events also took place over the same week, in Russia, Belarus, Estonia and the Czech Republic. Kicking off with the 16 and Under Vsevolzhsk Cup in Russia, where local and regional players dominated the honour roll. Top seeded Russians Nikita Kashirin and Noel Saidenova claimed the boys’ and girls’ title respectively, having defeated their compatriots Egor Novikov and Anastasia Zakharova. The girls’ doubles produced another all Russian final, with the aforementioned singles winner and finalist teaming up for the win. In the boys’ doubles some visitors did get a look-in, as Belorussian top seeds Aleksandr Kalinin & Kiril Yarmoshuk took home the trophy.
The 14 and Under Narva Cup, played in Estonia saw local favourite and top seed Marc Lajal win the boys’ singles. Russian number one seeded girl, Dari Sakhanova was taken out in the semifinals, paving the way for her unseeded compatriot Kira Pavlova to take the title. Latvian number two seeds Edvards Teodor Liepins & Daniils Snaiders won the boys’ doubles, while the Russian pairing of Victoria Matasova & Diana Yanotovskaya won the girls’ doubles.
The Belorussian capital of Minsk played host to the 14 and Under Smena Cup. Robert Korelov (RUS) and Kristina Dmitruk (BLR) won the singles events. Another victory came for the locals as Aliona Falei and Evialina Laskevich won the girls’ doubles. The Lithuanian pairing of Nikita Petrusenko and Ainius Sabaliauskas won the boys’ doubles.
Finally the 16th Realsport Open 14 was played Milovice in the Czech Republic. Local Czech players appeared on the winners’ list for all events. Michal Kracman and Zdena Safarova won the boys’ and girls’ singles respectively. Vojtech Burian and Matthew William Donald won the boys’ doubles while Linda Noskova teamed up with Ukrainian Olga Molchanova to take the girls’ doubles trophy.
While much of the focus will be on Tarbes next week, there is still a scattering of events taking place across the continent at the same time, as well as the qualifying rounds of the 12 and Under Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD.
Click here to check out full results from all the aforementioned tournaments, plus the Category 3 Quality Hotel Open (Vanersborg, Sweden).