It was a great week for Italian tennis on home soil as qualifier Matteo Gigante and unseeded Jennifer Ruggeri won the boys’ and girls’ titles in the 16 & Under Category 1 Torneo U16 in Biella, Italy. It was Gigante’s second tournament victory of the year, while Ruggeri claimed her maiden win of 2018. In another Category 1 event, this time in the Albena Cup in Bulgaria for the 14 & Under players, the boys’ and girls’ winners trophies were won by Konstantin Zhzhenov (RUS) and Fatma Idrizovic (SRB).
16 & Under Biella, Italy
It was smooth sailing for the top seed Ondrej Horak (CZE) until he ran into unseeded Serb Marko Topo in the semifinals. Topo, who had earlier upset eighth seed Oriol Fillat (ESP) in the second round, overcame a first set deficit to claim another prized scalp 6-1 in the deciding set.
In the other half of draw, the qualifier Gigante progressed to the semi-finals after tough wins over the fourth and sixth seeds. In the semi-finals, he faced another unseeded local in the form of Gabriele Camilli, who was also coming off a win over a seeded player, and won in straight sets. The final was a tough slog for the unseeded finalists and there was nothing in the first two sets, which were split between the two. In the final set however, the Italian ran away with the match to hold up the trophy in front of his home crowd, posting a 6-7(5) 7-5 6-1 victory.
It was another case of Italian domination in the girls draw as seven of the eight quarterfinalists hailed from the host nation. Ruggeri progressed through the draw with a fantastic straight set win over the second seed Kira Pavlova (RUS) in round two and then took advantage of that fine form playing exceptionally all the way to the final. With the late withdrawal of the top seed and the insertion of a lucky loser, the top half of the draw was wide open, which was duly taken advantage of. Another unseeded Italian Beatrice Stagno, who had earlier taken out the sixth and fourth seeds, progressed to the final to face her compatriot. However, it was one-way traffic in the final as Ruggeri was in control throughout the 6-1 6-1 victory.
In the doubles, there was more disappointment for Czech top seed Horak as he and his partner, compatriot Mathius Musil fell in their first match to eventual champions Gabriele Bombara & Alberto Orso. The Italian pair defeated the second seeds Fillat & Daniel Linkuns-Morozovs (LAT) in a 0-6 6-3 10-7 nailbiter. It was a similar story in the girls’ doubles, as the #1 seeds Pavlova & Maria Michaela Fiacan (SUI) fell at the first hurdle after a bye. Second seeds Molchanova & Hanna Vinahradava (BLR) took full advantage, outlasting home players Chiara Fornasieri & Greta Schieroni 6-3 6-3 in the final.
14 & Under Albena Cup, Bulgaria | Gallery
In its first edition as a new Category 1 event, the 14 & Under Albena Cup in Bulgaria attracted a strong international field. The late withdrawal of the boys’ top seed opened a gap for German #8 seed Marc Majdandzic, who subsequently sailed through to the semi-finals. There, he fell to Israeli Ron Ellouck, who claimed his third seeded scalp of the tournament. The bottom half of the draw was somewhat more straightforward with Konstantin Zhzhenov, the second seed, progressing through to the finals without the loss of a set. Ellouck managed to give the Russian his toughest test of the week, but after a hotly disputed first set, the higher ranked player held steady to secure his third – and biggest – title of the year so far.
There was no such drama for the top girls’ seed Fatma Idrizovic as she waltzed through to the quarter finals. There, the Serbian ran into inspired local Violina Mitrofanova who put up a tough fight before eventually capitulating 6-0 in the third set. In the semifinals she played fourth seed Stela Peeva, another in-form local who had overcome unseeded Brit Millie Skelton in three tough sets. Unfortunately, Peeva had to withdraw in the second set of her match against the top seed. In the bottom half, unseeded Czech Brenda Fruhvirtova upset a slew of seeds on her way to the semis, most notably second seed Katerina Dimitrova in the quarter final. However, she then lost to fifth seeded Bulgarian Denislava Glushkova in the semis, who in turn was taken down by Idrizovic in the final, 6-2 6-4. The Serb has been one of the Tour's in-form players in recent weeks, and scores her third Tennis Europe Junior Tour title of the season.
Spoils in the boys’ doubles went to top seeds Jucha & Svetlin Keremedchiev (BUL), who ensured that Romanian fourth seeds Mihai Alexandru Coman & David Manu would finish as runners-up for a second successive week, winning another thrilling final 4-6 7-6(14) 10-8. The girls’ winners were unseeded Fruhvirtova & Skelton who defeated second seeds Sofia Chernomorska (UKR) & Ekaterina Maklakova (RUS) 6-1 6-4 in the final.
16 & Under Zabrze Cup - Zabrze, Poland
Polish players dominated the podium in a tournament packed with locals. One exception was the boys’ singles tournament, where second seed Piotr Kusiewicz fell 6-3 6-3 to top seeded Czech Daniel Siniakov in their final. The seedings also held in the girls’ final, with the top seed fending off the #2 as Ada Piestrzynska defeated Zuzanna Kubacha 6-4 7-6(2). All eight doubles finalists were locals, with honours eventually going to Mateusz Kulakowski & Kusiewicz in the boys’ finals as Kubacha & Zuzanna Szczepanska won the girls’ doubles title.
16 & Under Estonian Junior Open, Tallinn
The largest event held last week in terms of the number of players, the Estonian Junior Open saw simultaneous 12 and 16 & Under events taking place, with an international field ensuring a number of different flags on the podium. Portugal’s Tomas Serrano Luis claimed the boys’ 16 & Under singles title with a straight set win over Edvards Liepins of Latvia. Serrano Luis also took home some silvare from the doubles event, as he and partner Mark Lajal (EST) reached the final, where they were beaten by Lithuanians Ainus Sabaliauskas & Pijus Vaitiekunas in a marathon 22-point final set tie break. Unseeded Russian Sofiia Suslova brushed past Anet Koskel (EST) to claim the girls’ title, though Koskellater teamed with compatriot Aurelia Riga to win the doubles, beating Russians Viktoriia Fedorova & Aline Fedulova for the loss of just five games.
14 & Under Torneo U14 - Pescara, Italy
The girls’ singles winner at the week’s only Category 2 14 & Under event was Federica Urgesi of Italy, who defeated compatriot Anna Paradisi 5-7 6-3 6-1 in the final. The boys’ finals was played between another Italian, Mariano Tammaro and Mexican Rodrigo Pacheco Mendez, with the home favourite coming out on top 6-3 6-2. As in Poland, all eight doubles finalists hailed from the host nation. Sixth seeds Mattia Ricci & Alessandro Versteegh took the honours in the boys’ doubles. Number four seeds Letizia Migani & Veronica Sirci were the girls’ doubles champions.
For full results in all events and categories here and elsewhere from this past week, please click here, or to view the week's photo galleries, click here.