Junior Davis Cup & Fed Cup Finals Preview

Barcelona – Spain, Sept 24, 2012: The Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas Finals, the world team championships for players aged 16 and under, get underway in Barcelona, Spain on Tuesday. The Finals return to the Real Club de Polo for the first time since 2006 with this being the fifth time the Finals have been played in Barcelona.

Sixteen boys’ and 16 girls’ teams, from a total of 21 countries, have fought their way through tough regional qualifying competitions for the chance to compete in the finals. This year saw 183 teams from 97 countries battling to reach the Finals.

The event begins with a round-robin competition, with nations being divided into four groups of four teams. The winners of each group qualify for the knock-out semifinals, while the remaining nations go into play-offs and fight for final positions. The Junior Davis Cup will see a new champion crowned as Great Britain’s reign over the event ended when they failed to qualify for this year’s Finals.

One of the favorites to win the Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas is Italy. Runners-up in 2011, Italy returns to the Junior Davis Cup Finals as the winner of European qualifying and featuring the highest-ranked player in the competition, Gianluigi Quinzi.

Quinzi, the current junior world No. 4, returns as the sole survivor from last year’s team and is joined by compatriots Filippo Baldi and Mirko Cutuli. Having reached the final for the first time last year, Italy will be determined to go one step further this year and claim its first title in the competition.

Australia reaches the Finals as Asia/Oceania regional qualifying champion with a new, young and talented team, captained by Mark Woodforde, who will look to emulate the 2009 team that won the title. This year also welcomes the return of Peru, last seen in this event in 2008 and making only its third appearance at the Finals.

Having won the title on a record six previous occasions, South American teams have often done well in the competition. Argentina, with a team containing the COSAT No. 1 Francisco Bahamonde and No. 3 Lautaro Pane could keep that tradition going. The competition also sees a strong Brazil team. The trio contains the COSAT No. 2 and No. 7, in the form of Marcelo Zormann da Silva and Rafael Fabris de Matos respectively.

France should also be in contention for the title, with a team that only narrowly lost to Italy in qualifying. The team contains Johan Sebastien Tatlot and Quentin Halys, both of whom are ranked in the top 20 in Europe and in the ITF Junior top 100, and should provide formidable competition. France is one of the events most consistent performers; having won the title four times previously, and will be looking to claim its first title since 2005.

The Junior Fed Cup sees the return of Russia. The 2009 and 2010 champion failed to qualify in 2011 but returns this year with a very competitive team consisting of the trio of Elizaveta Kulichkova, the current junior world No. 7, Alina Silich and Daria Kasatkina.

Russia will face very strong competition from a USA team containing the current junior world No. 1, Taylor Townsend. Townsend has had a phenomenal year, winning singles and doubles at the Australian Open before claiming the doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open. Townsend’s doubles partner for each of those Grand Slam titles is her USA teammate Gabrielle Andrews. Louisa Chirico, who holds a WTA ranking of 321, the highest in the competition, completes the team captained by Kathy Rinaldi.

Current champion Australia, spearheaded by the young talent Naiktha Bains, will face strong competition from a number of other teams, notably China who defeated Australia in the Asia/Oceania qualifying event. South American champion Brazil will also look to go deep into the draw as will Germany, which counts junior No. 4 Antonia Lottner in its team. This year’s event also welcomes Latvia, competing in its first ever Junior Fed Cup Final.

The draw and opening ceremony will take place on Monday from 1.00pm. Play will commence at 10.00am on Tuesday 25 September. —- ITF/Photo: Susan Mullane

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