from "Il Tennis Italiano"
by Umberto Mezzanotte
translated into English by Mauro Cappiello
In the men’s field, the Scandinavian school keeps on winning: Edberg steps up on the Under 16 podium. Among the girls, tradition is respected with the success of Czech Tesarova, but three of the four semifinalists come from Sweden. Good performances by the French, poor by the Italians. Perinon unlucky, the best are Cappelloni and Bonsignori. After seven years an Italian name in the champions list: Ferrando wins the mixed doubles with the American Schmitt. The club perfectly organized the prestigious event.
Stefan Edberg and Petra Tesarova with Tennis Club Ambrosiano President Erino Zanti
“18, but it doesn’t show them”, we could say, after a popular commercial payoff, about the eighteenth edition of the Avvenire Trophy, held with full success on the courts of the Ambrosiano Tennis Club and perfectly organized.
Among the several junior competitions included in the tennis season, the Avvenire is certainly one of those who could better resist to the extraordinary anticipation happened in tennis as far as the shaping of future champions is concerned.
And – lucky or intelligent – the choice of twelve years ago made by Gianni Moroni (then President and now honorary President of the Club) to put an age limit of 16 to the competition was extraordinarily right.
If it’s true – and it’s true – that the prestige and the value of a sports event are reflected in its past champions, those of the Avvenire reveal without any doubt the absolute level of the tournament.
But there’s more. The Avvenire has also got the merit to offer experts, journalists and fans the chance of an important technical test. It’s a tournament that always indicates the evolution in the game style, that has really changed in recent years. To succeed in the sport of racquet, playing well is not enough; extraordinary physical means are also needed, as much as a certain mentality and a mental strength that the recent “gutsy” tennis tests to the limit.
The merits of the tournament.
The tournament held in Milan gives the opportunity – as also this year – to compare three different tennis schools that we could sum up this way:
1) the American, based on the work and the efforts of an entire family engaged to create the future champion. It’s a method that can only be used in a rich country as United States, who produced young champions as McEnroe and Connors, Evert and Austin, Jaeger and RInaldi.
2) the Czech, based on tradition supported by incentives (travels and money) that the Eastern-European juniors particularly feel.
3) the Swede – born from the model of Borg – in recent years has been producing serial junior hopes.
But it’s always possible that some other promising young will blossom outside these three main streams. Think of the Australian Patrick Cash, come last year to revitalize a tradition that seemed to have disappeared after the golden age of Laver, Sedgman, Hoad and Rosewall.
Before analyzing what this 18th edition indicated to the experts and fans, a quick look at the past to remember that the names of Bjorn Borg (winner in 1971) and Ivan Lendl (winner in 1976) are certainly the most prestigious and eight of the last fourteen champions have played for their countries in Davis Cup. This percentage is very meaningful, if we consider that some of the tournament winners have still not completed their physical and technical development to achieve certain goals and awards.
The Avvenire Trophy was born in 1965 with a national edition, but, already that year, we can find Adriano Panatta’s name among the winners of the doubles tournament. The first foreigners to win were, in 1969, he German Isa Portscheller, Jelitto and Pinner. Then, in 1970, the Spaniard Javier Soler inaugurated the still continuing streak of foreigner winners in the boys’ singles. The last Italian names written in the past champions list are those of Manuela Zoni, Luca Ciardi and Gianluca Rinaldini who, in 1975, won the girls’ singles and the boys’ doubles respectively, while Italy has never won the Nations Cup, born in 1971. This long Italian drought is worrying and meaningful, but is also an evidence of how hard and demanding the competition is.
This year’s edition, who saw the successes of a Swede, Stefan Edberg, and a Czech, Petra Tesarova, is a confirmation. It’s known that Sweden – behind great Borg’s influence – gave birth to new tennis talents like Svensson, Simonsson and, more recently, Mats Wilander, winner of the French Open.
The last “product of the breed” is Stefan Edberg, who, after being finalist last year, triumphed on the courts of Via Feltre without dropping a set. The opponents he met and overcame with great authority were Italians Federighi, Restelli, Piscopo, Salemme, then the Argentine De la Peña in the semifinal and in the final the French Cayla, maybe a little shaking with emotion. Cayla seemed to be struggling on the opponent’s frequent net attacks and was able to find his passing shots only in the final stages of the match.
Of the four Frenchmen in Milan, the more gifted is Thierry Champion, who took the scalp of the second seed, the Swede Johan Carlsson, after a hard fight in the round of sixteen. Among the defeated, we have to highlight the name of Argentinian Horacio De la Peña, a young with remarkable talent, who made Edberg sweat in the semifinal. We’ll hear of De la Peña, who continues Argentinian tradition, in the future.
Among the Italians, very little could do the two juniors indicated by the Tennis Federation, Poggioli and Ricci. Better did Vacca, Salemme, Cappelloni and, most of all, Perinon, who was stopped by nose bleeding when he was about to beat Patrick McEnroe, the world champion John’s younger brother.
There were big expectations at the Ambrosiano to watch junior McEnroe, on which Mario Belardinelli, who followed the Milan tournament with his usual passion, expressed the following opinion: «He has a lot of talent, a fabulous arm and the game vision of a professional. He just lacks strength in his legs. If he can get stronger in his thighs, he will also be a champion like his brother».
Patrick McEnroe seemed to have improved very much from last year. After beating Nastase’s nephew, Minhea, and, even if with luck, Perinon, the younger McEnroe had to surrender in the quarters to the more expert French Champion. But, teaming up countryman John Schmitt, he won the boys’ doubles competition, beating in the semifinal the team Nastase-Pistolesi and in the final the Spanish couple Oltra-Garcia. More was expected from the French duo Champion-Cayla, who lost in straight sets in the semifinal against the Spanish team.
Good performance by the Swedish girls.
In the girls’ event Czech Petra Tesarova won, with an elegant and natural game. After struggling in the semifinal against the Swede Nilsson, she triumphed in the final against the Swede Carin Anderholm, a big girl with extraordinary physical means, but who still has to refine her game.
The girls’ tournament marked the success of the Swedish school that, even missing the final success (taken last year with Olsson), placed three players in the semifinals: Anderholm, Nilsson and Lundquist. The last is considered by the analysts the more gifted of the three, but, in the semifinal against countrywoman Anderholm, has never been in the match.
Compared to the previous editions, the Italian girls improved their score: three reached the quarters and, if the good result of Buonsignori, placed with a little optimism as the third seed, was expected, nice surprises were Stefania Albiosi from Sanremo and the little Laura Golarsa from Milan. To remark that all of the three, Bonsignori, Albiosi and Golarsa, were born in 1967 and can come again next year.
Ferrando, from Genova, very clever also in choosing her team mate, won the mixed doubles competition with the American John Schmitt, who obtained a double achievement in this successful edition of the Avvenire. Final opponents of the winning team Ferrando-Schmitt were the Swedes Anderholm and Edberg.
The organization, by Club Ambrosiano’s president Erino Zanti and Nino Colombo, was very careful. The only defect is the score table on the centre court. The advertising is very visible, much less the scores themselves. The umpire Maurizio Rossi was perfect.
The Nations Trophy was given to Sweden, thanks to Stefan Edberg’s success and Anderholm’s contribution.