Russia heads the list of nations bidding to go all the way at the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas Finals, the world team championships for players aged 16 & under, which gets underway in San Luis Potosi on 24-29 September.
The current European champions headline an exceptionally strong field in the boys' event, while the Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals also promises a number of hard-fought encounters.
Sixteen boys’ teams and 16 girls’ teams, from a total of 25 countries, have fought their way through tough regional qualifying competitions for a chance to compete in the Finals. This year saw 173 teams from 96 countries battling to reach the Finals.
The event begins with round robin competition, with nations being divided into four groups of four teams. The winners of each group qualify for knock-out semifinals, while the remaining nations go into play-offs and fight for final positions.
The Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas will see a new champion as Italy’s reign over the event ended when they failed to qualify for this year’s Finals.
Russia will be hard to beat in Mexico, fielding a strong team that consists of two players ranked inside the top 50 in the Under 18 world rankings. Russia will be going for the double having won the World Junior Tennis boys’ title earlier this year, and has reason to be confident after coming through European final qualifying without losing a match.
As well as Russia, European runner-up Germany is another team in contention, boasting the highest ranked player at the event: junior world No. 2 and Roland Garros runner-up Alexander Zverev.
Current Asia/Oceania champions Korea will be looking for their first Junior Davis Cup title, with both Seongchan Hong and Ku Keon Kang hoping to claim their second junior team competition trophy having won the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in 2011.
2008 champions USA, spearheaded by the young talent Stefan Kozlov, will be hoping to profit from their team’s experience. Kozlov has played at a number of junior team competition events, having first represented the under 14 team at the age of 12. Teammate Henrik Wiersholm is also no stranger to these events and will be hoping that their experience will pay off and see them through to the latter stages of the competition.
The Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas sees the return of Russia as a strong contender, once again. The 2009 and 2010 champion failed to add to its trophy haul last year, narrowly losing out to USA in the Final. This year the current European champions return with a very competitive team consisting of the trio of Daria Kasatkina, the current junior world No. 5, Veronika Kudermetova and Aleksandra Pospelova.
Current champion USA, lead by Katerina Stewart, will face strong competition from a number of teams, notably 2011 champion Australia. The reigning Asia/Oceania champions boast a team with great strength and depth, being the only nation to field three players within the top 100: Sara Tomic, Naiktha Bains and Priscilla Hon.
Also in contention are a number of European teams, including France, featuring the player with the highest WTA ranking in the competition, Fiona Ferro at No. 640. Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovak Republic are all boasting strong teams and will also be looking to make their mark in Mexico.
The draw and opening ceremony will take place on Monday from 5.00pm local time. Play will commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 24 September.