GB girls team win make history with first Tennis Europe Winter Cup win
Great Britain’s Girls 12 & Under team are celebrating after winning the Tennis Europe Winter Cup at the weekend, becoming the first British girls’ team to do so.
The Tennis Europe Winter Cups by HEAD are the biggest indoor junior team competition in tennis, with almost 200 national teams competing across three age categories – 12&U, 14&U and 16&U.
The 12&U category saw 30 nations from across Europe compete this year, with ties decided using two singles and a doubles match. The British team, captained by the LTA’s National Age Group Coach Hollie Bambridge and assisted by Millfield coach Nick Jones, included Sophie Bekker (Middlesex, Coach – Ben Haran), Hannah Klugman (Surrey, Coaches – Ben Haran & Alison Taylor) and Amalia Widdowson (Gloucestershire, Coach – Ollie Widdowson).
The British team started their road to success by progressing from the qualifying event in France earlier this month. They would have home advantage for the finals however, with the event having been staged at Sunderland Tennis Centre since 2015. Joining the British trio in the North East to battle for the title this year were teams from Russia, Poland, Latvia, Italy, Czech Republic, Belgium and Belarus.
A tough draw for the British team saw them face the Czech Republic in the quarter-finals, a nation that had won this title three times in the last six years. Despite losing the opening singles, the young Brits battled back to secure a magnificent 2-1 win and earn a semi-final place against Belarus.
Another hard-fought 2-1 victory gave them the chance to face Russia in the final, a country who along with the Czech Republic had dominated the event in recent years. A tremendous performance saw the British team win both singles matches to secure the title, before wrapping up a 3-0 win with victory in the doubles.
All three British team members are part of the LTA’s National Age Group Programme, a key stage of the LTA’s Performance Pathway, with both Klugman and Bekker training at the LTA’s Regional Player Development Centre at Reeds School.
The 12U girls are Winter Cup champions A pleasure & privilege to Captain the girls with @Nicj94Jones. @TennisEurope winter cup provides a great opportunity for young players to develop their games. We had a lot of fun too #thedrop #thehands #thehulk @the_LTA #historymakers
‘The girls played brilliantly’
Speaking after the final, LTA National Age Group Coach and Team Captain, Hollie Bambridge, said: “The girls played brilliantly throughout this competition, and fully deserve to come away as champions. They showed incredible skill, character and determination, and I am proud to have captained the first ever British girls’ champions in this competition.
“Of course there is a long way to go before they are professional tennis players, but this win is another promising early sign for players on the LTA’s Performance Pathway.”
Alongside inspirational camps, trips and grant support, the National Age Group Programme provides opportunities for players to represent Great Britain at events such as the Winter Cup and gain valuable experience by competing against some of the best players from across Europe in their age group.
The Winter Cup win in Sunderland was the first ever for a British girls’ team of any age in the event, but Britain has had past success in the boys’ competition, winning the Boys 14&U title on four occasions, including in 2001 with Andy Murray on the team, and the 16&U title on three occasions.
The Great Britain Girls 14&U team will be hoping to emulate the success of their compatriots after qualifying as one of eight teams for this week’s Winter Cup Finals in Rakovnik, Czech Republic.
The LTA’s Performance Pathway supports the most talented individuals to develop, with a clear pathway in place for every age and stage of a player’s development. To find our more about the pathway, including the National Age Group Programme, click here.
To find out more about the Tennis Europe Winter Cup, click here.