Again after one year, Prostejov became the capital city of world youth tennis. The beginning of August inherently belongs to the young tennis talents who are arriving here to represent their countries and fight for trophies in World Tennis Championships in Teams under 14. This tournament – officially called ITF World Junior Tennis Finals – has high reputation in the world of tennis. Well, nowadays stars like Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal or Lucie Safarova started here in the past.. So more respect to the marketing agency TK PLUS which organized this event in Prostejov for for nineteenth year in the row. Tournament was traditionally kicked off by the opening ceremony. After that, players immediately set out for their first ties in groups. As usual, every tie was contained by two singles rubbers and one doubles rubber. Spain was successful in thrilling quarterfinal against United States when they won in the deciding doubles with two point difference. In the semifinal, they faced China. The tie was started by two lefthanders – Daniel Rincon Yague and Boren Zheng. Especially in the second set the Chinese increased his level of play but still it came short of the Spanish player who won 6-1 6-4. If the Chinese team still believed in advance to the final all hopes were gone away with the beginning of the next rubber… Their No.1 player Xio Fei Wang was losing 0-5 just after ten minutes of game. The reason was a left hip injury for which he was forced to retire. Spain became the first finalist… The Swiss didn’t belong to to the biggest favourites but great performances brought them to the semifinal as to the only unseeded team. And the Japanese were devoted to stop their ride. Hiribi Arimoto was 4-2 up in the third set against Yarin Aebi However Aebi showed the fighter’s heart and battled back to give his country an early lead. Even the next singles rubber between no.1 players was in the directory of the Swiss player Jerome Kym fully used his powerful serve and defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-2 6-2. It was easy to see big effort of the Swiss team to come through to their historically first final at World Junior Tennis Finals. And they made it… One piquancy, they were led by Michael Lammer – the winner of Davis Cup together with Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka in 2014. The semifinal pairs in the girl’s competition were exactly same like previous year. So again after one year the Czech Republic faced Ukraine. The youngest player of the tournament – only 12 years old Linda Fruhvirtova – got off to a perfect start against Lyubov Kostenko. Thanks to aggressive play she took the first set and was not far away from win also in the second. Anyway, the Ukrainian was the player who managed the finish of this set better. From that moment she fully controlled the rest of the match. Ukraine took lead 1-0. Even the next singles was very tight. Despite Dasha Lopatetskaya was big favourite of this match. She was the member of the gold Ukrainian team in last year and could become first player in history of World Junior Tennis Finals with two titles. But the Czech Katerina Mandelikova played enormously well and in many parts of the game she overplayed her more experienced opponent. In addition, the Ukrainian was bothered also by a shoulder injury. However Lopatetskaya claimed both set’s finishes and by dug deep victory 6-4 6-4 secured to her country spot in the final. Clash between Russia and the USA was also expected as very tight. And it was… Both sets of the match between Polina Kudermetova and Charlotte Owensby were decided in the tie-breaks. The Russian showed more activity in them and took the victory. She concluded the game with a lovely stopball … Russia was really close to the final when Maria Timofeeva was one set and 5-2 up in the following rubber… But only 13 years old Cori Gauff didn’t break up under the pressure of the score and won 10 games in a row. That meant that it was she who finally left the court as a winner. This semifinal tie was leveled, so the decisive doubles was required to determine the winner. And more successful was the American pair Cori Gauff/Charlotte Owensby when they won over Polina Kudermetova/Maria Timofeeva 6-4 6-4. The USA team could looked forward to the Saturday’s final, the Russians waited for the bronze medal match. The Czech Boys team entered to the tournament as a sixth seeded team. After the losses with the USA and Italy and victory over Australia they finished third in the group so the play-off 9-16 was waiting for them. There, they firstly defeated Argentina 2-1 and then narrowly failed with Peru. The triple Adam Jurajda, Daniel Siniakov and Lukas Hauge took the tenth place overall. How satisfied was the Czech captain Jiri Kulich with this result? The tenth place..Well, when I look at the opponents or teams front of us… It’s a good result however before the Championship and according the draws we wanted through to the quarterfinals. That we considered as success. I think it was real to reach this target according the developments of our ties in the group… But it’s true that we lost with the teams in front of us or they had better results so it’s not so bad. For example today we lost with Peru, so they are ahead of us.. Well done for them. But yes, we initially set this goal. However with players’ performances I’m relatively satisfied. That’s true.. – But not with the place? – Yeah, it could be little bit better. But for example to be in top 4. No way, that was impossible. The other teams were surely better. Exciting tennis was played by both players in the first rubber of bronze medal match between The Czech Republic and Russia. Katerina Mandlikova and Polina Kudermetova didn’t give each other any ball for free, so it created many rallies like this one. And to the joy of home crowd the Czech was successful more often in those those so she could celebrate victory 6-2 3-6 6-4. The Czech No. 1 Darja Vidmanová was also very close to win. In the beginning she dominated with her backhand a claimed the first set. But then the Russian started to make troubles to the Czech player, especially during her servicing and took over overall initiative. Maria Timofeeva leveled the tie between the Russia and the host country at 1-1. In the doubles, the Czech duo Fruhvirtova/Mandelikova were losing out most of the time, despite they lost first set in the tiebreak and they were heavily closing on the opponents also in the second set. Nevertheless, they were no match for Kudermetova/Timofeeva and same like last year, the Russia took the bronze and the “pewter medals” left for the Czech players. Anyway, the Czech girls are regularly fighting for the highest places in the recent years. What explanation has for it the Czech captain Lubomir Stych? Surely, I think our girls have strong motivation because now we have world No.1 player, many our women are in top 100. So we are quite succesfull in the women’s tennis and I think this one of the reasons why we are ending on high positions here. However I think the girl’s tennis is mainly dominated by Europe and the USA. Meanwhile in boy’s category it’s little bit tougher. because there are South America, China, Korea..These Asian countries improves very quickly. So the competition there is much tougher. It was clear that the Asian continent will take one of the medals again. But still there was leaving question which country – China or Japan – will care about it. Japan was one step closer to that after the first rubber. The Chinese team was missing their No. 1 player Xioa Fei Wang because of his injury and his substitute Zi Heng He was no match for Hibiki Arimoto. Arimoto won 6-1 6-1. More tough and attractive duel was played by Shintaro Mochizuki and Boren Zheng. Zheng is only 13 years old so he can use his collected experiences also in the next year. But now, Mochizuki was too strong for him. So Mochizuki with his teammates could take from Prostejov bronze medals. Again after one year Ukraine faced the US in the girls final. That time Ukraine was the winner. How was it this year? Better start had Ukraine due to Lyubov Kostenko. She played in excellent form all week and continued the same way even in the final. She defeated Gabriella Price 6-3 6-3 after 1 hour 16 minutes. Two big players clashed in the following rubber. Dasha Lopatetskaya as the highest ranked girl in the competition and Cori Gauff, big American talent. A bit surprisingly, the whole match was firmly held in the hands of young American. Lopatetskaya didn’t arrive to Prostejov with her top form and concluded the loss 4-6 0-6 with a double foul. The decisive doubles determined that the American girls’ team took the trophy again after four years when Gauff with Owensby prevailed over the Ukrainian pair in two sets. Final showdown…Will succeed favourites from Spain or in great-form playing the Swiss? That could be a characteristic of the Boy’s final. In the opening rubber Daniel Rincon Yague and Yarin Aebi were presenting beautiful clay court tennis and very tough battle. Probably the crucial moment occurred in the third set when it was 4-4 and Aebi missed the lead 30:0… So he sent his opponent to serve for the match. And the Spanish took his chance very well… The following rubber was like a war of services. Both players can hit them very strongly. See for yourselves… Especially the way how the Swiss Jerome Kym is able to hit them is something extraordinary for this age category. In such a form, the Swiss was basically unbeatable… Despite Carlos Alcarez Garfia was pretty fighting he lost 4-6 6-7. And the deciding doubles? That was just something like a coronation of the Swiss ride. They played with huge devotion and desire to convert their historically first attendance in the final into the tournament victory. By every point they were closer and closer to their goal, until they finally reached it after 54 minutes of play… Actually first I want to thanks to my teammate because he is amazing double partner… Our coach told us. Keep pushing, keep pushing. Fighting for every ball and… Go full but also take it easy, play relaxed.. And then it came..I said to myself: Come on. Now we have a matchball, now it’s important. I played the return and then it was over. I was like..really? No, it’s amazing – It’s an amazing feeling. It’s the biggest win so far for us. The bottom line, six days loaded by tennis were behind us so it just remained to give medals to the most successful ones. Again it was big tennis show all week and again we could see many new faces in Prostejov which will aspire to be stars of professional tennis in the future. This year will be especially marked by incredible journey of the Swiss, who scrambled up to the top of podium from the position of the unseeded team. In the girls’ competition the Americans triumphed again after four years. Will be difficult for Cori Gauff – just 13 years old leader of the team and undefeated in the tournament – to find a motivation to come back to Prostejov in next year? No, it won’t be difficult. I mean..If we can win again, then why we not to win again.. So we will see if Cori Gauff will become first player at all who will defend the title from ITF World Junior Tennis Finals. Because good news is that Prostejov will welcome the elite of world youth tennis even in the next year.. So see you soon!

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Dennis Veasley

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