Photo: Susan MullaneGreat Britain - Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Winners 2011
The ITF has announced that over 350 teams from almost 100 nations have entered the 2013 ITF junior team competitions: Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas for the 16-and-under age group, and World Junior Tennis for the 14-and-under age group.
Boys and girls teams in both age groups will contest regional qualifying events over the next few months to earn one of 16 places in the two Finals.
The World Junior Tennis Finals will once again be held in Prostejov, Czech Republic on 5-10 August; while the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals will return to San Luis Potosi, Mexico on 24-29 September. The two hosts, Czech Republic and Mexico, automatically qualify for their respective finals.
The first qualifying event began on Monday with the staging of the World Junior Tennis North/Central America & Caribbean Pre-Qualifying event in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic on 11-16 March.
Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas were launched by the ITF in 1985 as the 16-and-under World Youth Cup, and rebranded in 2002. BNP Paribas has been title sponsor of the Junior Davis Cup since 2002, before going on to sponsor Junior Fed Cup in 2005.
The Finals have been held in 14 countries in the competition’s 29-year history, and this year will return to La Loma Centro Deportivo in San Luis Potosi, which previously hosted the event in 2008-11. The event will be held on hard court.
The success of the World Youth Cup led to the ITF introducing a 14-and-under competition, World Junior Tennis, in 1991. The first eight Finals were held in Japan, before moving to their current venue, TK Plus Centre in Prostejov, in 1999. The event will be staged on clay.
Most of the world’s leading tennis stars have taken part in the junior team competitions, with Rafael Nadal, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, David Nalbandian, Dinara Safina and Sloane Stephens all former champions at the World Junior Tennis Finals. Nadal, Bernard Tomic, Amelie Mauresmo, Elena Dementieva and Agnieszka Radwanska have all won the Junior Davis Cup or Junior Fed Cup titles.
The list of former competitors also features several other No.1-ranked players, including Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, Marat Safin, Jim Courier, Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati.
The World Junior Tennis title holders are USA boys’ team and Slovak Republic girls’ team, while last year’s Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup champions were Italy boys’ team and USA girls’ team.
ITF President Francesco Ricci Bitti said: “We are proud of the growth of our junior team competitions, which give talented young players from all over the world the first chance to represent their country, and are great preparation for their future Davis Cup and Fed Cup careers. Many former competitors have gone on to achieve success at the highest levels of the game.”