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The 2001 ITF Connolly Continental Cup, taking place from 3rd to 8th December in Florida, make up part of the exciting year-end US circuit which provides the climax to the 2001 Junior Calendar. Valuable ranking points are on offer for players involved in the race to be World Junior Champion, however, as with all team competitions, the real motivating factor is national pride.

In the girls’ Connolly Continental Cup this year, the Czech Republic appear to be pulling out all the stops in order to achieve a clean sweep of girls’ team titles in 2001. Already in the bag are the U14 Cesky Telecom World Junior Tennis trophy and the The U16 NEC World Youth Cup and with both the current World Junior No.1 singles and doubles players in the team it is clear that they mean business. What is more, the Czech girls certainly know how to work well as a team. Eva Birnerova, currently ranked No.1 in singles, was part of the winning 2000 NEC World Youth Cup team, alongside Petra Cetkovska, currently ranked No.1 in doubles, and also a member of the 2001 NEC World Youth Cup winning team. The Czech team is completed by Barbora Strycova, another 2001 NEC World Youth Cup gold medallist, who incidentally teamed up with Cetkovska at the beginning of the year to take the Australian Open girls’ doubles title. All in all, a formidable prospect.

Contenders hoping to prevent the Czech girls picking up their unprecedented hat trick of titles include Russia, the Slovak Republic and defending champions USA. Russia, the most successful nation in recent years with titles in 1999, 1998 and 1995, will be hoping to regain their crown. Svetlana Kuznetsova, US Junior Open singles runner-up and girls’ doubles champion will be leading the team. Vera Zvonareva whose expertise at the Crandon Park venue won her the Grade A Orange Bowl title there in 2000 will accompany her.

The Slovak Republic is bringing in the big guns to lead their challenge. Lenka Dlhopolcova makes a return to junior competition after a year on the women’s circuit which has seen her face Venus Williams at Flushing Meadows after qualifying for the US Open main draw, and taken her to No.174 in the WTA rankings. She will be joined by Lubomira Kurhajcova, also doing well on the professional circuit.

American eyes will be on Ashley Harkleroad, though not just due to her penchant for wearing a multitude of colourful outfits. Harkleroad was the lynchpin of the triumphant US team in 2000, going undefeated in both singles and doubles throughout the whole competition. This year, however, Harkleroad moves from the No.2 singles spot to No.1 and incoming No.2, Amber Liu, will have a tough job on her hands to emulate her compatriot.

<br />
<br />Current World Junior No.1 Eva Birnerova<br /> <br />
<br />Russia's Svetlana Kuznetsova<br /> <br />
<br />Lenka Dlhopolcova (SVK)

<br />USA No.1 Ashley Harkleroad

5,563 Posts
Good luck Ashley, Amber, and Bethanie <img src="smile.gif" border="0"> <br />Let's repeat!!

heres to america NOT repeating...

thats a great pic of svetlana <img src="graemlins/kiss.gif" border="0" alt="[Kiss]" />

<br />....and to the czechs (petra especially) kicking everyones ass'
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