The winners of the 2018 ‘Tennis Europe Junior Tour Players of the Year’ titles have been revealed. The award is presented to the four players that top the boys’ and girls’ 14 and 16 & Under rankings at the end of the season, plus a series of other winners selected for their achievements on the Tour throughout the year.
In addition to the coveted ‘Player of the Year’ title, this year’s four year-end #1 ranked players will also receive a special prize of a one-week stay at the prestigious Mouratoglou Tennis Academy in southern France, to be taken during 2019.
Boys 14&U: Mili Poljičak (CRO)
Rewarded for his hard work and consistency on the tour, playing 15 tournaments, Poljičak was a winner at the Kyiv Cat.1 tournament and Runner-up at Messina and Renningen Cat.1 tournaments. Poljičak won two Cat.1 tournaments, Bolton and Piestany with his Croatian partner Dino Prizmic and one Cat.1 tournament, Messina with Serbian partner Jovanovic. Poljičak was an integral member of Croatia boys’ team as they scored a comeback win in the final to claim their first ever Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD 14 & Under title. Poljičak with Prizmic also earned more silverware together as they were crowned European 14 & Under Champions.
“I’m thrilled to receive this award, as it a recognition for all the effort invested in training and matches. Success is even sweeter because it is achieved in tough competition. I had to have a two-month pause this year because of illness but there are two highlights. First highlight was Bolton when I won the doubles against the favoured American team and we came from a set and a break down. Second highlight was winning the Winter Cup in Veska where I came in with the team down 0:1 every time so I could not lose.”
Girls 14&U: Linda Noskova (CZE)
The girls 14 & under title went to Czech Republic’s Linda Noskova in a highly competitive category. Noskova won just one 14 & Under title (the Category 1 event in Sainte Genevieve Des Bois), finishing as runner-up in Odos, Category 1 event. However it was her stunning victory in the European Championships that set her apart alongside a formidable partnership with compatriot Linda Fruhvirtova. Noskova was the European Championsip winner with Fruhvirtova and their partnership also helped Czech Republic to victory in the Winter Cups. Noskova also claimed two Category 1 titles, Odos and Sainte Genevieve Des Bois, playing alongside Fruhvirtova.
“I’m very happy to end the year in such a position,” she told us. “I know I’m going in a good direction, and with these results I think I’m still confirming.”
Boys 16&U: Petr Nesterov (BUL)
Petr Nesterov capped an impressive year by being crowned Masters Champion at the season-ending event. Nesterov won Sarajevo (Cat.1) and also Pancevo (Cat.2) and Lida (Cat.2) while also finishing runner-up in Maribor (winning doubles with Popovic, his conqueror in singles) and Sofia (Cat. 2 events).
He told us, “I am so happy to hear that I’ve been chosen as the Player of the Year! This is so special for me because this award has been won by so many tennis stars like Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and others. This year was literally the best on European level I’ve played with so many great matches I gained a lot of experience. The most special tournament was the Tennis Europe Junior Masters; I played some great matches there and I fought for the title. That was the best feeling ever and I'll never forget it. I would like to mention my coach Kristiyan Iliev and Bulgarian Tennis Federation for all the support they gave me this whole year.”
Girls 16&U: Antonia Ružić (CRO)
Antonia Ružić won the season ending Masters against her compatriot and closest challenger for the year end number one ranking, Tara Wurth. Ružić won 4 Category. 2 tournaments, Milovice, Novi Sad, Pancevo and Budapest, (also winning Doubles with Szabanin (HUN) as well as finishing Runner-up in the Torello (Cat.1) tournament in 2018.
“The season was really food for me,” said Ružić. “I've been at many great tournaments and played interesting matches. The highlight for me was the Tennis Europe Masters, where I played the final with my great friend Tara Wurth. It was also my favorite match. It's a great honor to receive the award for the best Player of the Year.”
In addition to the above Players of the Year awards, the Tennis Europe Junior Tour also recognises some other special achievements during the season...
Overseas Players of the Year (girl) - Alexandra Eala (PHI)
Eala made a massive impact on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour, and ended the season ranked as 14 & Under #6, having played just 6 events (less tournaments than any other player in the Top 40). She started the year by winning singles at Les Petits As, and in the summer won both singles and doubles at Category 1 events in Hasselt and Oosterbeck, as well as at the Category 2 event in Nantes. In 2017, she was part of the Doubles Team of the Year after going unbeaten in five events.
Overseas Players of the Year (boy) - Hi Ziheng (CHN)
Ziheng had a phenomenal season, winning 23 of 24 doubles matches and 40 of 47 singles matches. He claimed five singles titles (Ulcinj, Subotica, Pecs, Tuzla and Riga) and four doubles titles (Palmanova, Niksic, Subotica, Pecs and Tirana) to finish the year ranked #13.
Doubles Team of the Year: Mili Poljičak & Dino Prizmic (CRO)
The Croatian pair played just four tournaments together but always delivered, winning 2 Category 1 titles and the European 14 & Under Championships. They also teamed up for their country at the Winter Cups and won all three matches at the final rounds. The final win/loss for the pair was an impressive 18/1.
National Team of the Year - Czech Republic Girls 12 & Under
Four nations swept the winter and summer team events in their respective age categories this year, but the Czech 12 & Under girls’ team outshone their rivals. The team – comprised of Brenda Fruhvirtova, Nikola Bartunkova, Sara Bejlek and Tereza Valentova - went unbeaten in both competitions (an incredible 42/0 win-loss record).
Special Achievement Award - Frank Jonker (NED)
This year’s Special Achievement Award goes to Frank Jonker of the Netherlands. He earned a phenomenal 44/2 win/loss record in doubles, winning 10 titles with 9 different partners which is a unique achievement.
Congratulations to all the winners. Medals and diplomas will be awarded to representatives of the national federations of the players concerned at a special ceremony during the 2019 Tennis Europe Annual General Meeting in March.