Thirty teams from around the world arrived in Chile this weekend to contest the NEC World Youth Cup Final 2001. The competition, held in the shadow of the snow-capped Andes at the Club Palestino, Santiago, will commence on Tuesday 16th October.
In the boys’ competition the Chilean boys will be carrying the weight of expectation as No.1 seeds in their home country. The team is unchanged from that which captured the silver medal in 1999 at the U14 World Junior Tennis Final. This year they, and the Chilean supporters, will be hoping they can go one better and take gold.
Setting out to try to stop Chile taking glory will be Germany, the No.2 seeds, Spain, No.3 seeds and Austria at No.4. The German team proved their strength by topping the very tough European qualifying competition and will no doubt be a strong test for Chile should both reach the final. Spain are unfortunately without their No.2 player, Rafael Nadal, who led them to gold in the 2000 U14 World Junior Tennis Final, but are still expected to perform strongly. The Austrian team are hoping for some good luck in order to get their No.1, Patrick Wolfer, fit again after he picked up an injury in practice. The dark horse of the tournament could be Portugal, represented in the NEC World Youth Cup Final for the first time, by virtue of an impressive performance in European qualifying.
In the girls’ draw, Czech Republic will be looking to repeat their success in the 2000 World Youth Cup Final in Japan, where they defeated No.1 seeds, Hungary in the final to take the title. This year, seeded No.1, they have new players to strengthen their squad and will be hoping to take Gold for the second successive year.
The Russian team has also brought in new players since the European qualifying competition, making them along with the Czechs, favourites for the title.
Chinese Taipei have included Su Wei Hsieh, ranked No.20 in the ITF Junior rankings, in their squad and have clinched No.3 seeded spot. The Croatian girls, No.4 seeds, have performed extremely well on the U16 European Tour and could also test the top two seeds.
The dangerous team in the girls draw could be Hungary, who are seeded only No.7 after losing to the Czech Republic in the first round of the European qualifying competition. However, with Virag Nemeth at No.1 they could easily cause an upset and will be drawn to face either Czech Republic or Russia in the round robin stages. Nemeth, ranked 24 in the ITF Junior Rankings prior to the Competition, has risen to no. 8 in this weeks rankings following her appearance in the Final of the Group A Osaka Mayor’s Cup World Super Junior Tennis Championships yesterday.
It all starts tomorrow
Good luck to the Russian Girls <IMG SRC="smilies/smile.gif" border="0">