The first weekend in October saw a contingent of Scottish players make the trip to Copenhagen for the 2014 Danish Junior Open. A squad of 12 players travelled to the event accompanied by SSRL Academy coaches Martin Woods and Claire Gray, while 3 other players travelled independently – Elspeth Young, Craig Valente-Wallace and Carrie Hallam. The main squad consisted of Pietro Gagliardini, Jack Smillie, James Riches, Jack Chambers, John Meehan, Georgia Adderley, Ruadhri McDougall, David Riches, Orla Young, Beth Moglia, Roisin Wright and Jemma Young. The group were excitedly looking forward to the trip, but we all knew it would be difficult to beat the success of last year’s trip, where Georgia Adderley won the Girls under 13 and Calum Carswell came third in the Boys under 13.
The event is held at the excellent Herlev centre on the outskirts of Copenhagen – a fantastic facility with 9 glass backed courts and one all glass show court, providing junior players with a rare opportunity to compete on a all glass court.
DAY ONE – FRIDAY 3RD OCTOBER
Day One of the tournament saw the introduction of the healthy eating rules. Players were asked to forego sweets or fizzy drinks until they had finished their last match of the tournament. With our dietary expert Claire on hand to advise the players on the best things to eat in preparation for a match, the players were clearly delighted with their new dietary regime, especially Beth.
The first day of the competition saw an excellent start for the group, with solid performances from everyone.
“Awesome” David Riches got the tournament off to a winning start for the Scots against Oskari Laitinen from Finland. The first half of the game was particularly tough, with David winning the first in a tie break 12/10 but losing the second in an even harder 11/13. It seemed though that the first two games had taken their toll on the Finnish boy as Awesome Dave moved on to take the last two games easily 11/4, 11/1.
Playing against the Danish player William Tranholm, Ruadhri McDougall started well, winning the first 11/7 followed by a flawless second game 11/0. Taking his foot off the gas a little, Ruadhri allowed the Danish boy back into the match, losing the third game 9/11, however he was never in danger of losing the tie, closing out the fourth game 11/3.
The performance of the day came from John “Pro Tour” Meehan, in his afternoon match against the Swedish player Oliver Vasillis. Seeded 9/16, John was only expected to come third in his group whilst the Swiss boy was ranked No.34 in Europe and seeded 3/ 4 for the event. The match proved to be extremely tactical with John playing a length game and taking the ball short whenever he got in front. With the match poised at 2-2 in games and 3-3 in points, the Swedish boy cracked under the relentless pressure which John was putting him under at the back of the court and suffered what can only be described as an emotional meltdown on court, handing John the match.
Meanwhile, Craig suffered a disappointing first round loss, Carrie won her opening match before losing a close 3-1 against Caroline Lyng Christiansen, who had defeated her 3/0 just 5 months ago at the U17 ETC, and Elspeth won a couple of tough matches to secure her place in the semi-finals.
DAY TWO – SATURDAY 4TH OCTOBER
Day two was another fruitful day in terms of results, bringing more superb performances from the group. John Meehan had his final group match in the morning, with the chance of coming first in his group and reaching the semi-finals. However the match was by no means going to be easy, playing against the higher-seeded Danish player Marcus Jepsen. Employing the same tactics that had won him his previous match, John pulled off another upset to earn his place in the semi-finals in his first ever European event.
Beth Moglia also had a sensational win on the Saturday afternoon against the No.2 seed Olivia Ulmi from Switzerland. Looking visibly nervous and not her usual exuberant self, Beth had a poor start to the match, losing the first two games 3/11, 3/11. With her opponent thinking the game was in the bag, Beth managed to relax more in the third, focussing more on her tactics and in particular return of serve. With the longer rallies now putting her opponent under pressure, Beth took the next three games to beat her opponent in a thrilling 38 minute match.
Pietro Gagliardini dispatched Martin Lehmann Rask from Denmark with ease 11/6, 11/6, 11/6, as did Roisin Wright, with Nea Ollikainen from Finland, Roisin winning 11/4, 11/6, 11/5.
Jemma Young had a superb win against Eden Johansson from Sweden. After losing a very tight first game 12/10, Jemma improved her length game, which completely changed the complexion of the game as she went on to win the next three 11/6, 11/6, 11/2.
John was back on court at 7:30 PM that evening, playing against another Swiss player, Tim Roesch, the second seed for the event. The diminutive Swiss player proved to be a far greater challenge than the group opponents, displaying incredible speed to the front of the court. This meant a change of tactics was required for John, as it was more dangerous to take his opponent short. Instead of taking the ball short so early in the rally, John kept his opponent in the back court, not allowing the Swiss boy to make use of his advantage at the front. Yet again, John’s tactical awareness and ability to stick to his gameplan belied his relative youth and inexperience and he was duly rewarded with a place in the final.
Jack Smillie had a tough start to his afternoon match against Peter Kyhl Revsbech from Denmark winning the first 13/11 and taking the second 11/6. His Danish opponent came back strongly to take the next game, winning the third 11/3. Jack was far from down and out, though, as his opponent quickly found out. Demonstrating a fantastic length game which pinned his opponent behind him, Jack bounced back winning the last game 11/2.
While the Boys were enjoying some mixed results, the Girls were having a much more successful event, with one representative in the semi-finals of each of the 4 age-groups. Orla Young finally met her match against top-seed and European No.2, Ambre Allinckx, from Switzerland, losing her U13 semi-final 11/5 11/8 11/5. Georgia Adderley eased through to the U15 final without dropping a game to set up a repeat of her U13 final from the previous year. Carrie Hallam lost in 5 to second seed, Sarah Lauridsen in the U17’s but Elspeth Young guaranteed a third Scottish finalist by beating Rina Koskinen from Finland 3-0 in the U19 event.
DAY THREE – SUNDAY 5TH OCTOBER
Despite being the final day of the tournament and the players now a little more tired, there were some fantastic matches still to come. One of the first matches on the Sunday was Beth Moglia, playing against Signe Skelkjær from Denmark for 5th/ 6th position. Beth started well and quickly discovered the weakness in her opponent’s movement to the front court. Using her counter drop to great effect, Beth won her last match with a clean 3-0 victory and then celebrated with a well-deserved Ferrero Rocher and Lucozade.
At 9:40 AM we had our first final of the day with John Meehan against yet another Swiss player Miguel Mathis, the number 1 seed and No.3 in Europe. John adapted well to the different atmosphere and court, losing the first game 4/11, although the rallies were far closer than the score suggests. John exploded into the second game and took control early on, hitting a superb variety of front court winners and powerful drives. John reached 10-6 game ball and the more experienced Mathis showed his class by playing a solid end game. Perhaps over eager to get his first game on the scoreboard, the errors gradually crept into John’s game, and his opponent snatched victory from the jaws of defeat to take the second game 12/10. Starting to tire, John fought hard in what was still a very tight third game, but his opponent kept his nerve to take the third game 11/9, and in the process win the event.
Georgia Adderley was next on at 10:20 AM on the Glass Show Court, in the Girls under 15 final. Playing against Sabine Petersen from Denmark, her opponent in the under 13 final the previous year when she won a tense five game thriller, it was going to be interesting to see how the girls compared 12 months on. However, this year was not to be so close, with Georgia completely outclassing her opponent 11/3, 11/5, 11/2, showing just how much she had improved in the last 12 months. Georgia had claimed her 2nd ESF Junior title without dropping a game, with none of her opponents even getting close to her.
James Riches pulled through in his last match against Marius Schwab from Switzerland. After winning the first 11/7, James’ opponent came back strongly to win the second 11/4. James wasn’t about to concede defeat however and went 2-1 up winning the third 11/6. With neither player wanting to lose the match the last game was an epic encounter, with James finally emerging victorious 15/13 in what lasted a gruelling 58 minutes.
Orla Young played a fantastic last match, defeating Kristine Hestbech from Denmark. Despite the Danish girl looking almost 17 years old, Orla had no problem in dispatching her 11/8, 11/2, 11/7, finishing the tournament in 3rd Place, above her seeding of 5/8. In reality, she was clearly the 2nd best player in the event, having comfortably defeated the runner-up 3/0 in the group stages before the knock-out draw cruelly placed her in the same half as the eventual champion.
Jack Chambers gave possibly his finest performance of the event, playing some excellent tight length to defeat his last opponent, Elias Coyle from Denmark. Winning the first game 11/5 and then storming to second 11/0, Jack lost the third in a tight 11/13. Jack very quickly got his nerve back to win the fourth 11/3, putting his opponent firmly “in the chamber”.
The three “independent women” (yes, that includes you Craig!) finished strongly with Craig Valente-Wallace recovering from his 1st round defeat to finish a disappointing but credible 11th in the Boys U19, Carrie Hallam won her 3/4 play-off to claim her 4th consecutive “podium” finish at an ESF event, while Elspeth Young was unable to claim her first ever ESF title, losing 11/6 11/5 11/7 to top-seed, Mathilde Lauridsen, but hugely encouraged that her recent move to Edinburgh to train with the SSRL Performance Programme is already starting to pay off.
All in all, the trip was incredibly successful and surpassed all expectations for the Scottish contingent. The event is one of the best organised on the ESF circuit, the venue superb and the organisers couldn’t be more welcoming.