Austrian Youth Open

Over the Easter weekend 6 Welsh Juniors traveled to Linz, Austria to go in search of medals at the Austria Youth Open.

An event that is known for delivering a hight number of matches for the players didn’t disappoint with Welsh players taking part in 122 matches of 5 days.


The event started with the team events on Thursday with Wales having 3 teams in play. First up was the Wales U19 Girls team made up by Lara Whitton and Lowri Hurd who breezed through their qualification group winning all 4 of their matches. In the Championship group A the team won 1 and lost 1 which saw them finish in 2nd place and progress to the semi final to play the winners of group B, Luxemburg. After going down 1-0 the team fought back to win the next 3 matches and take them place in the final with a 3-1 victory. The final saw them play Austria (Jenifer Henning & Michelle Kases), for the 3rd time in this event with the head to head standing at 1-1 going into the match. The match started in Wales favour with Whitton taking the first match 12-10 in the 5th set against Henning but Austria bounced back with Kases narrowly getting the better of Hurd 11-9 in the 5th set. With the match poised at 1-1 the doubles was up, Austria had won both doubles matches in the previous matches but that wasn’t to be the case this time, a fantastic doubles performance from our girls saw us comfortably win the doubles 3-0 to take a 2-1 lead in the match. Next up was Whitton against Kases, as with the first 2 singles matches this was a close 5 setter with Kases just pipping Whitton 11 in the 5th set and at 2-2 we moved into the deciding match, Hurd vs Henning. With Austria rallied from pulling back to 2-2 Henning got off to the better start but as was the case throughout the event Hurd went out fighting and once again we got a 5 set spectacular. Despite a great fight from Hurd Henning managed to see out the 5th set and after a marathon 3 and half hours Austria took the match 3-2 leaving Wales to settle for a Silver Medal.

Our U19 boys, made up of events Rhys Hetherton and Harri Docherty got off to difficult starting losing their first match before turning it round winning the next 2 matches to progress to championship draw. They progressed from their championship group in 2nd place after losing out 3-0 to a combined team from Austria and Korea but beating a strong Swedish team 3-2. In the quarter finals the boys came up against a Danish pairing, who they lost 3-0 to in the first match of the event. After taking some good learnings from that first match our team put up a much closer performance which saw the Danish pair take the match 3-1 but the individual performances a lot better than the first day against this team. This meant a 5th & 6th place play off was on the cards for the team against a Swiss pairing from the OTTV club. Another marathon of a match saw our boys finish strongly to take 5th place.

Wales U17 Girls Team, Ruby Elliott and Darcey Taylor, who played up an age group in the U19 girls event made a strong start which saw them winning 2 matches and losing 1 match and progressed to the championship event on Friday. Despite having a tough start to the group against Linz AG Froschberg they faced a Slovakian pairing they had lost to the previous day and this time the outcome was a lot better. A fine display for our girls to turn the match around and win 3-2 which meant a final match against Luxemburg was to decided if they progressed to the knock out stage. Luxemburg got off to a good start taking the first match but our Welsh girls fought hard and after Taylor levelling the match at 1-1 they put a great doubles display to go 2-1 up. Unfortunately for this young team Luxemburg just got over the line in the 4th match, 3-2, and went on to finish the stronger and take the match 3-2. This meant of girls where in the play off for 5-8th place and saw the team finish in 7th position which a great performance for a young team playing up in an older age group.


Following the team event we where onto the singles events. The team got off to a good start with Whitton (U19 Girls), Hurd (U19 Girls), Docherty (U19 Boys), Hetherton (U17 Boys) and Taylor (U15 Boys) all progressing to the championship main draw while Elliott (U19 Girls) narrowly missed out on 2nd place in the group and progressed to the Challenge event.

Elliott got off to a strong start beating Sunny Schuhmacher (Germany) 3-0 in the quarter final. The semi final against Seraina Rosset (Switzerland) saw the Swiss player take the first set but Elliott showed great composure to take the next 3 sets, 2 of which were deuce sets to reach the final of the U19 girls Challenge with a 3-1 victory. The final saw the reverse of the semi final with Elliott winning the first set but for Lara Taborsky (Austria) to fight back and take the match 3-1 which meant Elliott would take the silver medal.


Taylor was up first in the last 6 of the U15 girls again Vanda Vanisova of Slovakia. After a strong start going 1-0 up Vanisova fought  back hard to take the match 3-1.

This was followed by 3 quarter finals for Hetherton and Hurd firstly followed by Docherty in their respective events. The story for Hetherton was similar to Taylors, a strong start taking the 1st set but the German oppounment fought back and took the match 3-1.

While for Hurd it was difficult start with Majercikova (Slovakia) racing to a 2-0 lead but Hurd kept going taking the 3rd set but the Slovak took the match 3-1 winning the 4th set 13-11.

Docherty’s quarter final saw him play Elias Fardig of Sweden and Docherty was in fine form and comfortably progressed to the semi final with a 3-0 win. The semi final saw him face Jongeon Yeon of Korea. The Korean raced into a 2-0 lead taking both sets 11-5 but the 3rd set saw Docherty come out fighting taking the 3rd 11-8 and the 4th 14-12 leaving a 1 set shoot out for a place in the final. After a tight start seeing the set poised at 4-4 the Korean made a few changes and pulled away taking the final set 11-4. A disappointed Docherty who felt it was possibly an opportunity missed but can be proud of his play in over the weekend had to  settle for a bronze medal.


Whitton was up last in the U19 girls singles semi final against Henning of Austria, the 4th time this event. With the head to head at 2-1 in favour of Whitton she got off to a good start taking the first set 12-10 followed by Henning taking the 2nd and 3rd 11-6 & 11-8. Henning got a good start to the 4th set but a time out for Whitton at 3-1 down saw the match completely flip. Whitton the next 9 points and took the 4th set 11-4. The 5th set saw Whitton dominate a take the deciding set 11-3 and progress to the final. The final was Whittons 27th match of the weekend and saw her up against Nina Nemethova from Slovakia. After a strong first set for the Slovakian Whitton fought back to 1-1. A tight 3rd set went the way of the Slovakian and the 4th was a very similar story with fine margins making the difference and the Slovak taking the match 3-1 which meant Whitton added singles silver to the team silver she had already won.


National Coach Joshua Morgan had this to say about the event – “it was a fantastic event for this team of juniors. We wanted to go and get plenty of matches against good European players and it didn’t disappoint with is playing 122 matches across the 5 days. The players can be very proud of their performances in Austria and should come home with great confidence from the way the played, there were some fantastic wins and tough narrow losses to take but the key part was the way the group performed. Seeing the progressions made in training coming out in match play was a big positive from this event.”



Final Results – Team


U19G – Lara Whitton & Lowri Hurd  – Silver

Darcey Taylor & Ruby Elliott – 7th


U19B – Harri Docherty & Rhys Hetherton – 5th


Final Results – Singles

U19G – Lara Whitton – Silver


Lowri Hurd  – QF – Bronze in championship consolation


Ruby Elliott – Silver in Challenge event


U19B – Harri Docherty – Bronze


U17B – Rhys Hetherton – QF


U15G – Darcey Taylor – L16 – Bronze in championship consolation