Widely recognised as one of the the world’s leading junior tennis events of any age group, the Les Petits As Mondiale Lacoste celebrated 35 years in 2017. Steeped in history, with many Grand Slam champions amongst its former winners, the tournament once again attracted an extremely strong draw with players from nations as far as Thailand, Brazil, the United States, Ukraine and Morocco gathering in Tarbes to fight it out for the prestigious cup.
The boys’ semifinals featured three of the top 4-ranked players on the Tennis Europe Junior Tour. #1 seed and last year’s Junior Masters runner-up Holger Rune easily progressed to the semi where he ran into Italian fourth seed Luca Nardi. The first set proved to be a tough fight, with Nardi prevailing 9-7 in the tiebreaker before going on to win the second set easily. In the other half of the draw, American Alexander Bernard played his way to the semi finals, losing out to Hamad Medjedovic of Serbia. Nardi got off to a flying start in the final, taking the first set 6-2. His Serbian counterpart turned up the heat in the second, pushing the Italian to the limit, but Nardi saw him off 7-5 in that set to claim his fifth Tennis Europe Junior Tour title - and biggest yet.
The girls’ final went the way of Russian second seed Maria Timofeeva. In-form American Cori Gauff, on the back of her win at the Category 1 event in Bolton last week, continued to make waves on her way to the semifinal where she lost to Ukrainian Dasha Lopatetskaya. It was the turn of the Ukrainian, a wildcard recipient, to set tongues wagging as she fought her way through a very tough draw, overcoming European #1 Oksana Selekhmeteva (RUS) and seventh seed Charlotte Owensby (USA) on way to the final. Timofeeva, on the other hand had an easier route to the final as the number two seed, winning all of her matches without the loss of a set. The final was not one way traffic for the Russian, however. After dropping the second set, Timofeeva regrouped to back up her recent win at the Christmas Cup to take the title 6-3 4-6 6-3.
There was double joy for both singles champions. Luca Nardi teamed up with his compatriot Alessio Tramontin to take the doubles title, despite being unseeded. They scored a series of upset victories, including a final over Martin Damm & Toby Alex Kodat, members of the in-form visiting American squad who were, it must be said, very popular amongst the fans. The Italians had also beaten the top seeds en route to a tough 4-6 6-3 10-2 final win. Likewise, Timofeeva will be taking home two trophies. She joined compatriot Oksana Selekhmeteva, as number one seeds, in toppling the Italian pairing of Matilde Paoletti & Lisa Pigato 6-3 6-4 in the final.
For the first time this year, fans were able to enjoy live streaming from multiple courts from Tarbes throughout the weekend, extending further the popularity and visibility of this leading junior tournament.
The event also features a junior ITF Wheelchair Tennis event, which was won by Spain’s Martin de la Fuente for a third consecutive year, thanks a win over Ruben Spaargaren of the Netherlands. The girls’ event saw a first tournament victory for Switzerland’s Nalanai Buob, who outlasted Antonella Pralong of Argentina in three sets.
With sideshows and attractions in the tournament village throughout the week, and crowds numbering in their thousands to view the matches, players and fans alike were united on the morning of finals day to watch two former Petits As competitors in action. A big screen was available and there was a carnival-like atmosphere as 2000 champion Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer fought it out for the Australian Open title - a glimpse, perhaps, into the future for some of the competitors gathered around the screen.
Click here to check out full results from Tarbes and the two Category 3 tournaments held this week -
Stavenger Open, Norway (16 and Under)
Baku Open, Azerbaijan (12 and Under)