Czech players were represented in three of the four finals at the European 14 & Under Championships in Most, sweeping both girls’ events in what was a productive tournament for the local players on home soil. Linda Noskova took out the top seed Diana Schnaider of Russia in the girls’ final, while the boys’ trophy went to unseeded French player Sean Cuenin, who defeated fourth seeded Croat Mili Poljicak. By virtue of their results, both winners and finalists have automatically qualified for the season-ending Tennis Europe Junior Masters. Victory in the doubles also went to Noskova & Linda Fruhvirtova while Poljicak also earned more silverware, teaming with Dino Prizmic to win the boys’ title.
In a tournament full of upsets, it was somewhat fitting that an unseeded player would win the trophy. Mouratoglou Tennis Academy protégé and Development Championships winner Kalin Ivanovski of Macedonia took out the number one seed from Russia, Mikhail Gorokhov, in the third round. In the other half of the draw, the number two seed from Cyprus Constantinos Koshis retired injured in the third set against the eventual champion. Ivanovski’s fantastic run continued as he proceeded to defeat the thirteenth and fifth seeds before falling to Poljicak in the semi-final. Cuenin was on a similar tear in the top half of the draw, upsetting three seeds on route to the final showdown. The gold medal decider between the French boy and the Croatian was surprisingly one-sided, going to Cuenin 6-2 6-3, and earning him a second big title of the year, having also won at the Category 1 TIM Essonne tournament.
In the girls’ draw there were comparatively few big shocks - until the final! In any case the top seeded European #1 Schnaider proceeded to the finals in methodical fashion not dropping a set throughout the entire tournament. In the quarterfinals all players were seeded, save for Belgium’s Hanne Vandewinkel, making for a rather even draw. Her compatriot Sofia Costoulas, who has been in great from recently winning the Pont des Generations and the BNP Paribas Cup, was defeated in the last eight by Noskova, who then advanced to the final after Anastasiya Soboleva (UKR) had to retire injured. In the final, Noskova ended Shnaider’s hopes of a rare Tennis Europe Junior Masters/European Junior Championships double win by the surprisingly easy score of 6-0 6-3. Like Cuenin, she was also the winner of the TIM Essonne event, and earlier in the year reached the final of Les Petits As.
Unfortunately for Soboleva, still injured, she and her partner Olga Molchanova had to withdraw from the doubles semi-finals after having fought through some very tough matches to reach that stage. Therefore, their Czech rivals received a walkover into the final which they took full advantage of. The Belarusian pairing of Aliona Falei & Evialina Laskevich came into the final after a hard fought semi, but went down 6-4 6-3 in the gold medal match to Noskova & Fruhvirtova, The win made Noskova the 11th player in the 43 year history of the event to win both 14 & Under titles in the same year, an exclusive list of former champions that includes the likes of Steffi Graf, Justine Henin and Manuela Maleeva.
In what must have been a disappointing event for Gorokhov, also the number one seed in the doubles, he and his partner Konstantin Zhzhenov were upset in the quarterfinals. The doubles event, however, did serve as some sort of consolation for singles finalist Poljicak, as he and Prizmic won the final, 6-4 6-2, and in doing so prevented the pairing of Hynek Barton & Matthew Donald from claiming a third title of the weekend for the host nation. In doing so, they became just the third Croatian team ever to win the title, and first since 2003.
European 14 & Under Championships, Most (CZE)
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