PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: On an exciting final day of action at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals, Germany and Russia were crowned boys and girls champions.
It is just the second time Germany have won the boys’ title and the fifth time Russia have won the girls’ title since the start of the competition in 1991.
The boys’ final started with Nicola Kuhn of Germany taking on Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada. Both players started the match unbeaten in singles and doubles throughout the week, and Kuhn started the stronger, quickly opening up a 4-1 lead in the opening set.
The Canadian fought back to level the set and after that there was nothing to split the two players and the set moved into a tiebreak. Auger-Aliassime held his nerve the better of the two in the tiebreak and won it 7-4.
The second set carried on from where the first one ended, with both players at the top of their game. The crucial break of serve went to the Canadian who had the opportunity to serve the match out at 5-4.
He missed his first match point at 40-30 and then had to save two break points as the German fought back. The Canadian then held another four match points in the game but could not convert. Kuhn took full advantage and broke to level the set.
Auger-Aliassime broke straight back to serve for the match again, but failed to convert two more match points. He finally converted his eighth match point for a 76(4) 75 victory which gave Canada the lead in the tie.
The second rubber saw German Rudolf Molleker face Canada’s Nicaise Muamba. Molleker showed why he is considered one of the top players at this tournament as he stormed through to win 61 62 and draw Germany level in the final.
The biggest story at the start of the doubles was the absence of Auger-Aliassime who was forced to withdraw from the doubles due to injury. This meant that Canadian No. 3, Chih Chi Huang, made his competition debut in the deciding doubles rubber of the final, partnering Muamba against Kuhn and Molleker.
The new-look Canadian duo struggled to find their rhythm at the start of the doubles as the pairs exchanged breaks of serve. The North Americans were the first to settle, however, and took the opening set 63.
The Germans fought back, however, and levelled the tie, taking the second set 62, sending the final into a deciding set in the doubles rubber.
The Germans carried on their momentum, building up a big lead in the final set and held off the Canadian comeback for a 36 62 62 victory and their first title in the boys’ competition since 2001.
After the match, Kuhn said “Today is a special day for me and for us. I think it couldn’t be better and I’m very proud of Rudi.” Molleker then responded saying “First of all I must say thank you to the whole team.
"It was an unbelievable week together and I hope it’s not the last week. Now it’s an unbelievable feeling and I can’t believe that we are world champions and, yeah, I have no words to say for that.”
Russia has an excellent pedigree at ITF World Junior Tennis and they continued that this year by winning the girls’ title, defeating Ukraine in the final. The top two Russians are ranked Nos. 1 and 2 in the European U14 rankings, but lost to Ukraine in qualifying for this event and were out for revenge.
The first rubber saw Olesya Pervushina of Russia take on Ukraine’s Katarina Zavatska with both players undefeated in singles or doubles going into the final.
Both players competed at a very high level throughout the entire match, but Pervushina clinched the crucial break of serve before taking the opening set 63. Zavatska fought her way back into the match in the second set, winning it 64 to force a deciding set.
The third set was even until the Russian broke serve at 3-3, then consolidated to make it 5-3. With the momentum in her favour, Pervushina broke once more to take the match 63 46 63 and give Russia a 1-0 lead.
The second rubber saw both No. 1s go head-to-head as Dayana Yestremska of Ukraine faced Russian Anastasia Potapova.
Once again, both players were undefeated coming into the final, and, as was to be expected, it was another match of enormous quality.
Yastremska stormed out of the blocks, chasing down every ball and striking some impressive winners and she claimed the opening set 62. Potapova responded, upping her game and edging a close second set 64 to level the rubber.
The third set was one-way traffic as Potapova raced into a 5-0 lead. Yastremska fought back, earning a break of serve before holding her own, but was unable to prevent Potapova winning 26 64 62 to hand Russia their fifth title in the girls’ competition.
After the final, Russian captain Irina Dorinina spoke on behalf of the team, “We are so happy. It’s very important to play in the Russian team, and we are so happy because we won today.”
Russia claimed third place in the boys’ competition with a 2-0 win over Brazil. Nikolay Vylegzhanin defeated Joao Reis 76(1) 64 before Alen Avidzba sealed their victory by defeating Thiago Wild in a thrilling encounter 46 63 76(6).
Third place in the girls’ competition went to Romania after the unseeded Europeans earned a terrific 2-1 victory over No. 4 seeds Australia. Mihaela Lorena Marculescu defeated Baijing Lin in the opening rubber 61 63 to give Romania the lead. Destanee Aiava levelled the tie for the Australians with a 60 61 victory over Selma Stefania Cadar. Cadar then teamed up with Andreea Prisacariu to overcome Aiava and Gabriela Ruffels 64 61.
Elsewhere in the boys’ event, Chinese Taipei overcame Morocco 2-0 to claim 13th place and Spain came from 1-0 down to defeat Portugal 2-1 to finish in 15th. This therefore means that Europe will lose a spot at the Finals next year, with Africa now claiming a 2nd place.
In the girls’ competition, Egypt took 13th place following a 2-0 win over Morocco and India claimed 15th position after they defeated Peru 2-0. South America already have the minimum two places at the Finals, therefore this will remain unchanged for the Finals in 2015.
A full list of results and the final standings can be found here.