The 14 and Under XIV Taça Internacional Maia Jovem 2017 was the highlight of the Tennis Europe Junior Tour calendar this past week. The first Category 1 event of the clay court season produced a great week of tennis, as a field of players from 30 countries gathered in sunny Porto. The eventual winners were Carlos Alcaraz of Spain and Bulgarian Dariya Radulova.
In the boys’ singles, there were a few upsets along the way as the number five seed, Joel Pierleoni from Great Britain was taken out in the second round by unseeded French boy, Mehdi Sadaoui, who in turn lost to local player Miguel Gomes two rounds later. Another upset loss for a Brit came when Derrick Chen, the number two seed, capitulated to 13th seeded Bulgarian Ivan Penev.
Apart from these early losses, the results mostly went according to script, with seven of the eight quarterfinals being seeded players. The quarters produced some epic battles, not least German Samofalov’s win over recent Stockholm champion Jack Pinnington Jones, which the Ukrainian eventually claimed 7-6 in a very tight third set. Other matches saw Miguel Gomes fall to Spaniard Daniel Rincon in the semi-finals. Gomes was the last remaining Portuguese player and went down with a fight, 7-5 in the third set. Rincon’s opponent in the final was number one seeded player Carlos Alcaraz, also from Spain. He had progressed through to the semi finals fairly easily, with the exception of a tough three set win in the quarter finals over sixth-seeded Swiss Yarin Aebi.
So the all-Spanish final was set up between the number one seed and the number ten seed and it turned out to be a lot closer than many might have predicted, with the final score going 7-6(6) 7-5 in favor of the top seed, giving Alcaraz his second tournament win from three finals so far this year, and a second Category 1 singles title, following his win in Barcelona last August.
The two singles finalists, friends and compatriots, teamed up to make it to the doubles final where they went down in a thrilling third set championship tiebreak 10-7 to the aforementioned Brits, Pierleoni and Pennington Jones. This was their third victory from as many finals this year, and they are proving themselves to be quite a formidable team.
The girls event saw more shocks and surprises, primarily with the number one seeded Russian Sara Suchankova being taken out in the second round by unseeded Italian Asia Serafini. There was no silverware either for the number two seed, Fatima Keita, who sailed through to the semi-finals where she was taken out by eventual champion, Dariya Radulova. Her win in the final was over seventh seeded Clarine Lerby of the Netherlands, who had progressed through to that stage very convincingly for the loss of just 8 games. Though she fell short at the last hurdle, a first Category 1 final appearance will no doubt help her confidence and ranking. Bulgaria’s Radulova meanwhile, chalked up her third consecutive Tennis Europe Junior Tour title, and first Category 1 win, with a 6-2 0-6 6-4 victory in the final.
There was to be some consolation for giant killer Serafini in the doubles. She is another player again showing great form this season and, teaming up with her compatriot Eleonora Alvisi, took out the doubles title. They did so over the singles finalist Clarine, who herself had a great tournament, and her Spanish partner Maria Berlanga by the slimmest of margins: 6-4 3-6 11-9.
There were two Category 2 tournaments this week in the 16 and Under age group. The first, the GD Tennis Cup U16, was played in Antalya, Turkey. The boys’ singles winner was Radu Macovei who defeated top seeded Egor Novikov 6-4 6-1. In the girls’ singles, two Ukrainians faced each other with victory going to Anna Laura Hinka gaining a 7-5 6-4 win over Alina Tsyurpalevych. The boys’ doubles winners were Piotr Polak and Marat Sharipov and the girls’ doubles trophy went to Renata Farima and Melis Ayda Uyar.
The second event, the Yason Cup 2017, was played in the hometown of Monica Seles in Novi Sad in Serbia. There were double victories for both the boys’ champion and the girls’ champion. In the boys’ singles, Nini Gabriel Dica defeated Matei Georgescu 6-2 6-2. The Romanian compatriots also teamed up to win the doubles title together. Zita Kovacs defeated Aleksandra Stankovic 4-6 6-3 6-0 in the singles final. She then teamed up with fellow Hungarian Luca Janosi to win the doubles event.
Full results from all rounds at these events, as well as from the Category 3 16 and Under Kvarner Junior Open in Rijeka (CRO) and the 14 & Under Kalovelonis Spring Tournament in Athens (GRE) can be found at: http://www.tenniseurope.org/tournamentwinners.aspx