The cream of Australia’s 14/u tennis players will face the world’s best at the ITF World Junior Tennis Competition final, commencing in Prostejov, Czech Republic, today.
The players have spent the past week training hard on the clay courts of Prostejov, Czech Republic and are well prepared for the prestigious event.
The Australian boys’ team of Thanasi Kokkinakis (Seacombe Heights, SA), Blake Mott (Thirroul, NSW) and Li Tu (Royston Park, SA) has been seeded No. 4, and is in a group with No.5 seeds Chile and South Africa. Tomorrow they face the unseeded Czech Republic team which will be out to impress the home crowd.
Photos: WJTC finals preparations
Adelaide National Academy Coach and team captain Broderick Dyke said, “We are excited to have the opportunity to play the host nation, Czech Republic, in the first round of the World Junior Final. We had a practice match against them yesterday so have some idea on what to expect. The reverse is also true, and they will know a bit about how our team plays as well.
“I’m confident that as long as the boys play their best we can achieve a good result.”
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The girls team of Ashleigh Barty (Springfield, Qld), Isabella Beischer (Balwyn, Vic) and Lyann Hoang (Brisbane, Qld) is unseeded, and today meets the No.2 seeds Russia, a team boasting the top-ranked players in Europe and the winner of the recent European Championships. They will also have to fight their way past No.7 seeds Brazil, and Canada.
“I’m very excited about our opening match after seeing the draw ceremony tonight,” team captain Mark Hlawaty said.
“The challenge of playing the No.2 seeds is something the girls and I are looking forward to. We have had a great preparation and now all that’s left to do is go on court and give it all we have. Fear no one!”
More than 85 nations competed in regional qualifying events for the chance to take their place as one of 32 teams, 16 boys and 16 girls, in the world final. Countries in contention are as follows: (Brackets denote seeding.)
Boys:  France,  USA,  Italy,  Australia,  Chile,  Poland,  Great Britain,  Russia, Argentina, China, Czech Republic, Japan, Korea, Mexico, South Africa, Venezuela.
Girls:  USA,  Russia,  China,  France,  Ukraine,  Czech Republic,  Brazil,  Korea, Australia, Austria, Canada, Colombia, Japan, Paraguay, South Africa, Spain.
The 16 teams in each event are divided into four round-robin groups. The winner of each group will progress to the knockout stage with the finals to take place on Saturday.
Australia won the boys event in 2007 with Jason Kubler (Qld), Ben Wagland (NSW) and Joey Swaysland (NSW). Lleyton Hewitt led the 1995 team to a bronze medal.
Past competitors in the event include Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Kim Clijsters and Amelie Mauresmo.