Hosts Great Britain (girls) and Slovakia (boys) have captured this year’s 12&U Winter Cups by Dunlop titles, Europe’s biggest indoor team tennis event. 2024 has seen the welcome return of the 12&U Winter Cups, with the event last held in 2020 for this age group.
This year was also special in that it marked the 10th edition of the event as well as the first time that both the boys’ and girls’ Final Rounds were played at the same venue 📸 Photo Gallery
Having won their qualifying zones, both boys’ and girls’ teams from eternal favourites Czechia were taken out at the first stage of the final rounds, by Austria and Great Britain respectively
Of the 4 teams in the finals, the Slovakian boys’ team were the only squad to get through the qualifying rounds undefeated
Great Britain fell to Croatia in round 2 in Zone C qualifying, however by virtue of their status as host nation, they advanced to the final rounds*
With the hosts and Ukraine qualifying for the girls’ final, the trophy was guaranteed to remain in the hands of one of only 4 nations to have ever won the girls’ event, namely Great Britain, Russia, Ukraine and Czechia
In contrast, the boys’ decider saw first-time finalists Austria and Slovakia fight it out for bragging rights
Great Britain def Ukraine 2–1
Ukraine’s Road to the Final
Zone B Qualifying Rounds: R1 def Moldova 2-1; R2 def Belgium 3-0; Qualifying final: lost to Czechia 1-2
Final Rounds: QF def Romania 3-0; SF def Estonia 2-1
Great Britain’s Road to the Final
Zone C Qualifying Rounds: R1 def Netherlands 3-0; R2 lost to Croatia 1-2*
Final Rounds: QF def Czechia 2-1; SF def Slovakia 2-1
The final was played between the ‘defending champions’ and hosts Great Britain, who won the last edition back in 2020, and the 2015 champs Ukraine. Naina Kapoor, having lost her singles in the preceding rounds, found her form and put the hosts ahead with a gritty 7-6(5) 7-5 win over Anna Kuznetsova. However, Mariia Kocherzhenko wasted no time putting Ukraine back in contention with a 6-2 6-4 win over Dasha Jones. So down to a live doubles decider it was, with the two Ukrainians returning to court to face Sophia Cuninghame who teamed with Jones for Team GB. In a thrilling contest that went down to the wire, it was the local team that kept the trophy on British soil with a 10-6 win in the championship tiebreak.
After the match team coach Luke Milligan was extremely proud of his team. “From a GB perspective, the girls this week have been amazing. With events like this, it often comes down to the doubles and our girls have been amazing in doubles this week. We’ve had a really good balance of the matches being super competitive but also played in great spirits, which is exactly what you want out of the event.”
Slovakia def Austria 2-1
Austria’s Road to the Final
Zone C Qualifying Rounds: R1 def Slovenia 3-0; R2 def Portugal 3-0; Qualifying final: lost to Netherlands 1-2
Final Rounds: QF def Czechia 2-1; SF def Switzerland 2-1
Slovakia’s Road to the Final
Zone D Qualifying Rounds: R1 def Italy 2-1; R2 def Georgia 3-0; Qualifying Final def Great Britain 2-1
Final Rounds: QF def Poland 3-0; SF def Finland 3-0
Matteo Sanson got Slovakia off to a strong start with a confident 6-2 6-1 win over Lionel Friessnegg, for his third straight set win in Sunderland and sixth win overall in this competition, ending his Winter Cups campaign undefeated in singles. Luca Sageder put the Austrians back on even terms with a tough 7-5 7-5 win over Martin Adamca to set up another live doubles in Sunderland. Adamca and Sanson were back on court, where they posted a 6-3 6-2 win over Sageder and Fabian Leitner to clinch the victory for the Slovaks, who were elated after their victory. “I feel very good. I played my best tennis in the final and we played the doubles very well. It was a great experience for us,” stated Sanson, while Adamca added “I also played very well in the final and I played best in the doubles. I feel great!”
WINTER CUPS: BACK WITH A VENGEANCE
Europe’s biggest indoor team tennis event has come back strong this year, with all three age groups now in action. With Over 500 players, representing 183 national teams played at 15 venues, it was the 12&U players who kicked off the fortnight of Final Rounds. (The 14&U and 16&U finals get under way next weekend.)
All in all, it was a successful return to competition at the 12&U Winter Cups by Dunlop. The boys’ final rounds had previously been held at various venues in Czechia, while the girls’ final rounds were first held in Sheffield and, since 2015, in Sunderland, near Newcastle.
At the opening ceremony the Mayor of Sunderland, Dorothy Truman, helped kick off proceedings welcoming the 16 teams. “Some of the biggest names in the world including Andy Murray, Rafa Nadal, Roger Federer, Martina Hingis and Emma Raducanu all competed in Tennis Europe events as juniors.” She went on to apologise for the constant rain, but nevertheless said she was “honoured and proud to welcome you all on behalf of our city, our region and our country and great - indoor - facilities at the Silksworth Community Pool, Tennis & Wellness Centre.”
The venue expanded from its original four to eight indoor courts, thus easily being able to accommodate a joint boys’ and girls’ final rounds. In addition, players and coaches attended a session of the Tennis Europe Junior School at the end of Day 1, where Tennis Europe staff gave the 12&U players a talk followed by a quiz about the Tennis Family and Social Media.
Thank you to the LTA and to the host venue for putting on a successful return to the event, as well as to all the staff and volunteers involved. Finally, congratulations to all 16 teams for making the final rounds:
Mariia Makarova and Michael Antonius have won the singles titles at 14&U Super Category Les Petits As tournament. With the likes of Rafael Nadal, Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune having played on these hallowed courts, this tournament attracts the cream of the crop of junior stars from Europe and beyond.
This year, the event’s 42nd edition, was no exception as many players descended upon Tarbes from afar to play in what is arguably the biggest 14&U tennis event in the world.
Of the eight boys’ and girls’ semifinalists, half hailed from the Americas: three from the US, and one Brazilian. Furthermore, there were many upsets along the way, highlighting the depth of the field in Tarbes. The number one boys’ seed Pavel Oliver Dusek (CZE) was taken out in the second round by Rafael Thao-Keuang (FRA) who in turn fell to eventual finalist Izan Banares (ESP). The number four seed Richard Krizan (SVK) also went home earlier than expected in round 3 at the hands of American Tabb Tuck.
The top girls seed and last year’s 14&U Player of the Year Jana Kovackova (CZE) met a similar fate, bowing out at the quarterfinal stage to the eventual champion, who had also dispatched of current Race to Monte-Carlo leader Victoria Laki (SWE) two rounds earlier.
On an interesting side note, and just as a potential measure of how things stand, Kovackova made light work of last year’s 12&U Festival winner Daniel Baranes (ISR) in the first round. And last year’s Special Achievement Award winner from Latvia, Darina Matvejeva was granted a wildcard and advanced to the second round before losing to American 15th seed Margaret Sohns.
In the end, there could only be one winner, as the final went the way of Makarova, who was too strong for compatriot and doubles partner Ksenia Ruchkina, posting a 6-4 6-3 win. In the boys’ final, Izan Banares got off to a good start, before Antonius evened it up in the second set and ran off with the third, earning his trophy with a 4-6 6-2 6-0 victory.
Makarova now adds title number 13 (six in singles) to her already prolific list of victories on the TEJT. Meanwhile, the American Antonius was playing in his fourth TEJT singles final and claimed a second.
There was to be more success for the travelling US entourage with Izyan Ahmad & Teodor Davidov winning the boys’ doubles title, with a narrow 2-6 6-1 10-6 win over locals Quentin Dodin & Thomas Grevoul.
It was to be two finals appearances in Tarbes for Makarova and Ruchkina, who played together in the doubles final the day before they faced off in the singles final. The Russians also won their final by a slim margin over Czechs Kovackova & Katerina Zajickova, claiming the trophy with a 6-2 3-6 10-5 win.
As always, this year’s edition of the tournament got off to a flying start. With many wanting their chance to participate in an event of this calibre, players took part in international and national qualifying for the chance to make it into the exclusive final 64 draw. This draw is packed, with no slots for byes, so simply qualifying for the main draw can be considered a fantastic achievement, especially for the players who did so coming up from the 12&Us.
Also taking place before the start of the main draw was the Tennis Europe Junior School. Our staff gave a talk about the Tennis Family, as well as the extremely important issue of Safeguarding. The school ended on a fun and interactive note regarding the subject of Media with players taking part in mock interviews and press conference situations.
Spotted at this year’s tournament was former French Open champion Michael Chang whose daughter was a wildcard entrant and managed to advance to R3.
Spanish professional Marc Lopez was also in Tarbes and sent out a special message for us on day 1:
There is no doubt that this is a massive event, with the planning, infrastructure, volunteers, staff and sponsorship involved. This year it is estimated that that between 40,000 and 45,000 spectators were at the venue to witness some of the best Junior action themselves.
Social media was also on point with this tournament, with the qualies as well as the main draw given exceptional coverage on various platforms.
In addition, live streaming was offered from the outset. This is a service we are seeing more and more on the Junior Tour, offered by Tennis Europe as well as some tournaments offering their own streaming and scores.
Remember to download the Tennis Europe Junior Tour App for more access to tournaments with live streaming and live scores.
Elsewhere This Week
Vilar International – 14&U, Category 3
Austrian Moritz Freitag won the boys’ singles title while top seed Ukrainian Sofia Bielinska won the girls’ singles title. It is Bielinska’s eighth TEJT singles title, while Freitag won his sixth.
Vierumaki Cup 2 – 14&U, Category 3
Mark Griaziutin Tverskoj (LTU) and Kara Fronek (AUT) were the boys’ and girls’ winners in Finland. Congratulations to both players, who have each won their maiden 14&U singles titles on the TEJT.
12&U Winter Cups by Dunlop, Qualifying Rounds
This year’s Australian Open plot was a coming-of-age story in many respects. Europeans were the protagonists in the tale of 2024: Aryna Sabalenka’s repeat, Jannik Sinner’s slam final debut and Daniil Medvedev’s strike-out, going 0-3 in AO finals. At the same time, a slew of former Tennis Europe Junior Tour players have written a new script and announced themselves on the world stage in Melbourne.
The breakthrough performance was arguably that of Linda Noskova, winner of 16 TEJT titles including gold in singles and doubles at the 2018 European Junior Championships (14&U). Likewise, many other names have made themselves seen and heard this year:
Dayana Yastremska (UKR), for all her personal upheavals, made it through qualies to win an unbelievable 8 matches in a row before falling to Qinwen Zheng in the semis.
Fellow Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk took her Slam game to another level, reaching the quarters in her best-ever major performance, beaten by former TEJT #1 Coco Gauff
Maria Timofeeva, Les Petits As champ winner and EJC doubles gold medalist in 2017, was another qualifier who made a deep run, all the way to R4 before falling to Kostyuk
Noskova, for her part, took out world #1 Iga Swiatek in R3 and went past Elina Svitolina before succumbing to Yastremska in the quarters
On the men’s side, it was the usual suspects in the latter part of the draw, however some youngsters made inspiring runs:
Arthur Cazaux (FRA), another EJC doubles gold medalist, made it to the fourth round, where he met his match in the form of Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz
Luca Van Assche, another Frenchman, is a fellow former TEJT star who managed to make an impact before being taken out by Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE) in R3.
This year, there were many well-known names making their mark:
a winner of eight TEJT titles Slovakian Renata Jamrichova took the girls’ singles title, upsetting local hope Emerson Jones, 6-4 6-1 in the final.
14-year-old wildcard and recently naturalised French player Ksenia Efremova showed her talents by making it to the quarterfinals.
Brit Mingge Xu was another European quarterfinalist
Top boys’ seed Federico Cinà (ITA) was upset in the first round as was number eight seed Oliver Bonding (GBR).
Last year’s European Junior Championship 16&U gold medalist, Justin Engel (GER) made it through qualifying, falling at the first hurdle, but this is a promising sign, nonetheless.
Three Europeans were into the boys’ semifinals; Jan Kumstat (CZE) defeated Mees Rottgering (NED); second seed and 2022 Junior Masters champion Nicolai Budkov-Kjaer (NOR) lost to eventual Champion Rei Sakamoto. The Japanese player came from behind in the final to eclipse Kumstat 3-6 7-6 7-5.
In the junior doubles, it was a US whitewash:
The European pairing of Petr Brunclik (CZE) & Viktor Frydrych (GBR) fell to Maxwell Exsted & Cooper Woestendick 6-3 7-5 in the boys’ doubles finals.
Meanwhile, Americans went home with more trophies thanks to Tyra Caterina Grant & Iva Jovic, who scored a 6-3 6-1 win over Julie Pastikova (CZE) & Julia Stusek (GER)
Europeans Dominate the Podia
After being named ITF 2023 World Champion, Aryna Sabalenka came to Melbourne with a goal: to defend her title and make her dad proud by winning a second major before the age of 26. That she did, and in dominating fashion no less, without dropping a set in her quest for back-to-back AO titles. This was the first time a player had appeared in two straight finals, let alone win them, since her compatriot Victoria Azarenka achieved the same double win in 2012-13. Sabalenka beat two Grand Slam champions en route to the final, namely Gauff and Barbora Krejcikova (CZE), where she was once again too strong for slam final debutante Qinwen Zheng taking the Daphne Akhurst trophy with a dominating 6-3 6-2 display of power, precision and confidence.
Six of the eight quarterfinalists in the women’s draw were Europeans while seven Europeans of six nationalities were in the men’s last eight. With Jannik Sinner up-ending Novak Djokovic’s plan for the 11th Australian Open, it was the Italian who turned his first major final appearance into a win, taking on tour “veteran” the 27-year-old Daniil Medvedev, who had come back from match point down against Alexander Zverev in the semifinals. Seemingly down and out, Sinner turned the championship match around, posting a 3-6 3-6 6-4 6-4 6-3 win over Medvedev. Sinner’s comeback win makes him the first Italian to win a singles title at the AO and the first Italian singles Grand Slam champion since Flavia Pennetta at the 2015 US Open.
Men’s: On the doubles court, it was a local win for Matthew Ebden (AUS), who partnered India’s Rohan Bopanna to overcome the all-Italian pairing of Simone Bolelli & Andrea Vavassori. They took the match 7-6 7-5, and in doing so Bopanna has set aspirational new records: oldest ever grand slam champion at 43 years of age; will be the oldest first-time #1 ever; most attempts at a Grand Slam title before winning (61).
Women’s: Belgian Elise Mertens teamed up with Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) to defeat Lyudmyla Kichenok (UKR) & Jelena Ostapenko (LAT) 6-1 7-5 in the women’s final.
Mixed: Honours in the mixed doubles went to Pole Jan Zielinski who played with Hsieh to defeat Desirae Krawczyk (USA) & Neal Skupski (GBR) 6-7 6-4 11-9.
An astounding record was also set in wheelchair tennis which simply cannot go unmentioned. Diede De Groot of the Netherlands has won her 21st Slam and fourth consecutive AO title. And in what is truly extraordinary, she has now won 13 consecutive grand slam singles finals dating back to the 2021 Australian Open final. Amazing.
For all scores, photos and news, consult the Australian Open website.
Joyce Geng (CAN) and Taiki Takizawa (AUS) captured the singles titles at the 14&U Category 1 event in Bolton, Lexus Junior International Bolton, after a great week of tennis.
6th seeded Geng, whose father was a professional player, had come through two tough 3 set quarter-final & semi-final matches on route to the final, having beaten Brit Liv Zingg 6-3 4-6 6-3 in the last 8, following this up with a 6-7(6) 6-4 6-4 semi-final defeat of 11th seeded Spaniard Paola Pinera Celorio.
Geng’s final round opponent was Nauhany Vitoria Leme Da Silva (BRA), who had remarkably come through 2 rounds of qualifying and 5 matches in main draw, without the loss of a set to make the final. In a high-quality match, it was the left-hander from Vancouver, who prevailed with a 6-4 6-3 victory, to become the 4th Canadian to win the girls singles title joining tennis greats such as Coco Gauff & Justine Henin on the roll of honour. The Brazilian was rewarded for her impressive run to the final with a main draw wild card into this weeks Super Category Tennis Europe event in Tarbes.
The Boys' Singles final saw another qualifier make it through to the championship match. Big-serving Taika Takizawa (AUS) a wild card into qualifying reached the final without the loss of a set, whilst his final opponent Quentin Dodin (FRA), had come through an epic 5-7 7-6(6) 6-3 3rd round defeat of fellow compatriot Charles Rossillol, followed by a highly impressive 6-4 6-1 defeat of top seed Plamen Kolev (BUL) in the quarter-final.
It was the French player who struck first to edge a very close 1st set 7-5, but the tall left-hander from the Gold Coast, Queensland, stuck to his task in an absorbing encounter to prevail 5-7 6-3 6-3 in just under 1¾ hours. Takizawa became the 2nd Australian to win the title since the inaugural event in 1995, following in the footsteps of Andrew Thomas who won the boy’s singles title back in 2004, joining an impressive roll of honour which includes Andy Murray and Francis Tiafoe as past champions.
The boy’s doubles final saw the Anglo-Irish pairing of Patrick Breen (IRL) & Eric Lorimer (GBR) beat Dodin and partner Thomas Grevoul 6-4 6-2, with the girls doubles title going to top seeds Yui Komada & Ran Wakana (JPN) beating fellow Japanese player Sakino Miyazawa and Nauhany Vitoria Leme Da Silva 6-1 6-2.
Tournament Director, Richard Joyner commented ‘This was the 28th edition of the event, and it really is a chance to see the stars of the future in action today, with many of our previous participants going on to reach the highest echelons of the world game. Once again, the standard of player was top class, with the 4 singles finalists from 4 different continents. There was a tremendous atmosphere around the singles finals with Salford University media students capturing the action, ball crew from Cheshire & Lancashire county squads, and a school’s day which involved watching the action, doing a Q&A with the winners, and then having a coaching clinic (with some of the school kid’s experiencing tennis for the 1st time)’.