Croatia’s boys’ team and the Czech Republic girls’ team have been crowned as the new summer 12 & Under outdoor team champions of Europe, following a busy two weekends of action that saw participation from 58 national teams.
At the boys’ final rounds, which were held at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in Biot, southern France, a confident and relatively experienced Croatian team came from behind to recover for a 2-1 win over the Czech Republic, defending its title in the process.
Czech #2 Petr Vojtech got the tie off to the best possible start for the Group B winners, overcoming a lapse in the second set to outlast Patrik Jurina 6-1 0-6 6-2. The second singles was not nearly as competitive as Dina Prizmic – a veteran of the winning 2016 team – conceded just one game to Jakub Mensik. When the four players duly returned to the court for the deciding doubles rubber, both teams had reasons to feel confident: the Croatians had not lost a match in the whole of the final rounds – a run which included wins over Romania, France and the Netherlands – while the Czech players had already won the 12 & Under Winter Cups by HEAD together earlier in the year. On this occasion though the match was taken comfortably by the Croatian pair, who secured the tie with a 6-4 6-3 win.
The victory is Croatia’s second in the eleven year history of the competition and saw the team block what would have been a sensational double victory for the Czechs, who later in the day emerged triumphant at the girls’ final rounds in Ajaccio.
This final turned out to be equally hotly contested. The opening singles match, between the #2 players of each team, provided a fairly routine win for the Czechs over the Belgian opposition, as Krstyna Tomajkova beat Amelia Waligora for the loss of just three games, 6-2 6-1.
The second match was a classic though; Sofia Costoulas of Belgium fought hard to recover from a 4-6 first set loss and stood at the brink of defeat in the second before taking a twelve-game set over Brenda Fruhvirtova. The final set went to the wire as the pair eventually separated by a deciding tie-break, which the Belgian eventually claimed 7-4.
The final doubles match was tense, but perhaps the fresh legs of Lucie Havlickova, who joined Fruhirtova to face Costoulas & Waligora made the difference. After edging past the Belgians to claim a 7-4 first set tie break, the Czechs secured a crucial break in the second and sealed the match with a 7-6 6-4 win.
Having just failed to become the second nation ever to win both Nations Challenge titles in the same year (following Russia in 2011), the Czechs will be extremely pleased nonetheless, picking up a first title from a total of five final appearances. The win for the Czechs also demonstrates the strength in depth of the country’s 12 & Under squads, with only Havlickova having played on the team that finished as runner-up at the Winter Cups in February.
Draws and Results
Boys Final Rounds: Biot (FRA) | Nominations | Group A | Group B | Matches | Photos
Girls Final Rounds: Ajaccio (FRA) | Nominations | Group A | Group B | Matches | Photos