New champions have been crowned at the Tennis Europe Junior Masters in Reggio Calabria after an intense but friendly weekend in which the Tennis Europe Junior Tour’s leading players faced each other for the last time this season.
Fatma Idrizovic of Serbia was the day’s first winner. After sealing a titanic first set in a tie break, a battle which lasted well over an hour, she accelerated away from Katerina Dimitrova, breaking the Bulgarian twice in the second set to secure a 7-6(5) 6-2 win.
The European #6 becomes the first Serbian winner of the girls 14 & Under title and ends the season with a 45/12 win-loss record, which reaped five singles titles including Category 1 wins at both the 14 and 16 & Under level. “It was an amazing final,” she told Tennis Europe. “I played well and I’m so happy that I won.”
Konstantin Zhzhenov is the new 14 & Under boys’ champion. The Russian had a slight upper hand throughout the match with Czech Hynek Barton, with one break in each set being enough to clinch a 6-4 6-4 victory for his fourth title of 2018, and the biggest of his young career so far. Despite the win, the perfectionist wasn’t totally satisfied with his game, saying “I played good, but it wasn’t my best match of the tournament…I am happy to be the champion though; I love it so, so much!”
The girls’ 16 & Under final was an all-Croatian battle between the top two seeds, Tara Wurth (#1) and Antonia Ruzic (#2). The pair had met once before on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour and a total of three times in all competitions with Wurth winning on each occasion, but this time Ruzic took the initiative and withstood a spirited fightback from her friend and compatriot in the second set to hold on for a 6-4 7-6(5) win. “I feel great. I am very happy. All of the work that I put in is paying off now,” she smiled. Ruzic becomes the first Croatian girl to win the title since Ana Konjuh in 2011.
Petr Nesterov survived a second set fightback from Daniel Linkuns-Morozovs of Latvia to win the boys’ 16 & under title in the day’s last match. The Bulgarian was the more consistent player early on, taking the first set 6-2. Linkuns-Morozovs blasted back in the second set, overpowering his opponent to level the match 6-4. Nesterov was able to recover his poise in the third set, eventually closing out a 6-2 win to become the first player from his country to win this category. “I’m very happy with this title,” he said. “I fought very hard for it, and I will never forget this tournament.”
The bronze medal play-off matches were some of the hardest fought battles of the entire tournament. Matthew Donald (CZE) edged top seed Mili Poljicak 4-6 7-5 6-3 in the boys’ 14 & Under event, while Aliona Falei of Belarus also recovered from the brink of defeat to get past compatriot Evialina Laskevich 1-6 7-5 6-4.
The 16 & Under competition saw Klaudija Bubelyte (LTU) outlast Anna Panchartek (CZE) 6-4 6-7(7) 6-4 to claim bronze in a three-hour marathon, while Petar Teodorovic benefitted from a walkover as Serbian compatriot Stefan Popovic was forced to withdraw due to illness.
As is tradition, the host club ASD Circolo di Tennis Rocco Polimeni, held an elaborate closing ceremony, presenting gifts to all of the players and trophies and medals to the winners and runners-up. A special Fair Play Award, decided by the team of referees and umpires, was presented to Tara Wurth for her behaviour on court throughout the weekend.
The Tennis Europe Junior Masters is an elite season-ending tournament for the Top 6 European players of the race to Masters ranking, plus the European Junior Championships gold and silver medallists. Former winners of the tournament include the likes of Rafael Nadal, Alexander Zverev and Kim Clijsters.