The 12 & Under Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD finals were won by the Czech Republic in both the boys’ and girls’ events for a second consecutive year, marking a second win for the boys’ team overall and a third for the girls since 2012, when this age category of tennis’ biggest international indoor team event was first launched.
With almost 60 national teams competing in the qualifying rounds, the final eight were decided after play took place at six venues across the continent at the end of January.
The boys’ final rounds took place in Veska in the Czech Republic. The home team were the favourites going into their first match against Portugal. They did not disappoint as they whitewashed the away team 3-0. They backed this up with a 2-1 win over the Brits in the semis. Petr Brunclik was undefeated in the singles, but Vojtech Vales went down to Jamie Diack. Brunlick and Maxim Mrva clinched a tense win in a 10-6 championship tiebreaker victory in the doubles over Diack and Henry Trump.
Italy had come through their first encounter the same way, with the same score line in a championship tiebreaker over France in the deciding doubles rubber. In the semi-finals, Giorgio Gatto won his singles, while Daniele Rapagnetta lost his, thus reversing their fortunes from their quarterfinals. In the doubles, the pair again won by the same score in the championship tiebreaker, sending the pair through to Italy’s first final in this age category of the Winter Cups. Hi
The final was, for all intents and purposes, an easy win for the hosts. Vales defeated Rapagnetta 6-1 6-3 and Brunclik overcame Gatto in an even easier 6-2 6-0 win in less than an hour. The Italians were able to salvage some pride by pushing the Czechs to the limit in the doubles, but still could not avoid a whitewash, going down 11-9 in a championship tiebreak. Thus, with a 3-0 win, the Czechs proudly held aloft the winners’ trophy on home soil to successfully defend the title they won last year at the same venue.
The girls played it out in Sunderland in northern England. The Czech team got off the mark strongly, routing Austria 3-0 in their opener. They followed that up with another unbeaten encounter against Poland. Nikola Bartunkova and Brenda Fruhvirtova were both unbeaten in singles coming in to the final. Bartunkova was also unbeaten in the doubles in the first two rounds with her partner Sara Bejlek.
Great Britain came through their first match 2-1 with Sophya Devas and Vlada Kozak claiming victory in the doubles after Kozak had lost her singles in a tough two-hour match. In the semis, the Brits were more convincing, not dropping a rubber, although they had switched Devas for Hannah Read in the doubles, allowing her to rest for the final.
That move was ultimately inconsequential, as Bartunkova proved to be the stronger player on finals day, securing a 6-4 6-2 win to give the Czechs the upper hand. Next up, Fruhvirtova emulated Brunclik’s second-rubber rout, allowing Kozak just two games in the first set. Bartunkov and Bejlek then combined again to remain unbeaten in the finals weekend in Sunderland. They swept away Devas and Kozak in less than hour to give the Czech Republic a 3-0 win over the host nation and wrap up a historic ‘double double’, becoming the first nation ever to win both boys’ and girls’ Winter Cups by HEAD titles in the same age category in two successive years.
Boys: 1. Czech Republic, 2. Italy, 3. Great Britain, 4. Ukraine, 5. France, 6. Portugal, 7. Russia, 8. Turkey
Girls: 1. Czech Republic, Great Britain, 3. Poland, 4. Hungary, 5. Russia, 6. Bulgaria, 7. Romania, 8. Austria
Full results from the competition can be found here, and photo galleries are available here.