By Kit Spencer, IC Council member and lead representative for the IC Junior Challenge
This is the fifth worldwide finals since its launch in 2005, an event that has developed from an original idea by Frank Sedgman, President of the IC Council. The Junior Challenge is an important fixture in the IC calendar and an aspirational event for junior players around the world.
It has a strong history of attracting some of the world’s best junior players, many of whom have competed in Junior Grand Slams, and more than 600 players have now participated in both regional qualifying events and worldwide finals. Many more have been involved in outreach programmes and the IC Junior Challenge has become a real showcase for all of the great work done by players and volunteers.
The 2014 worldwide finals will feature representative teams from the host nation Great Britain and the ICs of Italy, Japan, South Africa, Argentina and the USA, who qualified through regional events in 2013.
The opening round of matches will take place at Wimbledon on Monday 28th July and the tournament will comprise of a round-robin format over five days, concluding on Friday 1st August.
During the finals week, each IC team will be represented by two boys and two girls, plus an adult captain/coach. Coaching is allowed during matches, which not only provides added support for the players, but also gives greater importance to the captain’s role.
Matches start daily at 11am and feature two boys’ singles, two girls’ singles, one boys’ doubles and one girls’ doubles. In the event of a tie (3 matches all), there will be a 10-point match tiebreak played by one mixed doubles pair from each side. Final positions will be decided by the number of ties won.
We are privileged to have Clare Wood as the Event Referee — she is a former professional player and currently an Assistant Referee at The Championships, Wimbledon. Her wealth of knowledge and expertise will add greatly to the professionalism of the tournament.
The Junior Challenge has come a long way since the idea was first discussed between the ICs of Australia and New Zealand back in 1996. It was felt that juniors in both countries were not getting enough quality match play, and that representative international competition was needed to improve the games of both boys and girls. An event was later formalised as the Trans-Tasman Cup, and was held annually from 1997.
However, the event soon expanded to include teams from Asia, before the initiative inspired Julian Tatum, on the IC Council’s Executive Committee, to establish regional qualifying on every continent. This started a journey that led to the worldwide finals being played at the home of tennis today, The All England Lawn Tennis Club.
The event continues to go from strength to strength and with the on-going commitment of the IC family, the future of the event is in good hands.
“It was a wonderful experience and I never knew that the IC was such an active club. One of the main aspects of the competition that I enjoyed was that it wasn’t just a ‘competition’, but also a social event that allowed me to interact and meet new people from other countries and other cultures.” Christian Cargill, IC of Bahamas
“Playing against all the teams was really good. I had a great experience and lots of fun, on and off the court.” Raveena Kingsley, IC of USA
2012: IC of South Africa (Adelaide, Australia)
2010: IC of Great Britain (Commonwealth Games site, New Delhi, India)
2008: IC of New Zealand (ASB Stadium, Auckland, New Zealand)
2006: IC of New Zealand (Olympic Games site, Sydney, Australia)
Regional Qualifying Results 2013
North American IC Junior Challenge, 14th – 16th Dec, The Bahamas.
Winners: IC of USA
Participating Teams: ICs of The Bahamas, Barbados, Mexico and USA
African IC Junior Challenge, 1st – 3rd Nov, Johannesburg, South Africa.
Winners: IC of South Africa
Participating Teams: ICs of Botswana, Mauritius, South Africa and Zimbabwe
South American IC Junior Challenge, 13th – 15th Sep, Santiago, Chile.
Winners: IC of Argentina
Participating Teams: ICs of Argentina, Chile and Uruguay
Asian IC Junior Challenge, 20th – 24th September, Tokyo, Japan.
Winners: IC of Japan
Participating Teams: ICs of Australia, India, Japan, Pakistan and Singapore
Compass European IC Junior Challenge, 9th – 14th July, Albinea, Italy.
Winners: IC of Italy
Participating Teams: ICs of Austria, GB, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Russia, Spain and Sweden