Photo: Martin SidorjakMarketa Vondrousova (CZE) during Sunday's practice
PROSTEJOV, CEZCH REPUBLIC: The Czech Republic are top seeds in the girls’ competition at the 14 & Under World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov, Czech Republic which take place this week.
The Czech girls have a good record in this competition, having won it on four occasions, most recently in 2003. They won their European qualifying event and so will head into the tournament with high expectations.
In contrast, the Czech boys have had considerably less success at this level. They are yet to lift the title, despite having reached the final on three occasions. This year, they are unseeded and considered outsiders for the title, but they will be hoping that some strong local support could help them provide an upset.
Russia are the second seeds in both the boys’ and girls’ tournaments and they will be looking to produce a strong showing this year. Like the Czechs, Russia have historically been stronger in the girls’ competition than the boys’, but they have two strong squads this year, with the boys having won the European qualifying event, meaning confidence will be high in the Russian camp.
Australia are the No. 1 seeds in the boys’ competition and third seeds in the girls’ event. They were very strong in qualifying, winning both the boys’ and girls’ Asia/Oceania qualifying events. They have not reached the final in the girls’ competition since 1992, when the tournament was held in Japan, however, they have had some recent success in the boys’ draw, winning the title here in 2007.
USA are always strong contenders for the titles here. They won the boys’ tournament last year and won the girls’ tournament four years in a row from 2007-10. They are seeded No. 4 in this year’s boys’ draw, having won the North/Central Americas qualifying event, and No. 5 in the girls’ draw after finishing as runners-up in qualifying behind Canada.
The only other nation to be seeded in both draws is Canada. The North Americans are making huge inroads into the world of tennis with young players like Milos Raonic and Eugenie Bouchard producing some excellent results on the ATP and WTA Tours. With their teams seeded fourth in the girls’ tournament and sixth in the boys’ event, there are signs that Canada are continuing to produce high quality junior players.
This is a very prestigious tournament and has featured some of the greats of the game in the past. Noticeable former participants include Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, Agnieszka Radwanska and Laura Robson.
The 16 boys' and girls' teams in the final are drawn into four round-robin groups before the top teams in each group progress to the semifinals where a knock-out competition decides the champions.
The hosts have been handed tough draws in both competitions. The Czech girls' are in Group 1 with Romania, Japan and Egypt whereas the boys have been drawn in the same group as Australia, the No. 1 seeds, who they will face on the opening day.
The full draws can be found here and you can follow the action via live streaming or live scoring.