The seeding draws for the teams and players have been announced at the 19th Portuguese Youth Open, which begins tomorrow.
The competition is taking place at the Pavilhao Municipal Dr. Eduardo Mansinho in Tavira in the Algarve part of Portugal over the weekend – beginning with the team events on Friday before the singles are played over Saturday and Sunday.
The England Junior Boys’ team of Sam Walker, Igor Morais and Lewis Gray are third seeds and they will face Italy, Luxembourg and Portugal (D) in their group while the Junior Girls’ of Abbie Milwain, Yolanda King and Jessica Dawson (seeded sixth) will face Portugal (A) and Spain.
The Cadet Boys’ team of Helshan Weerasinghe and Sam Mabey will face Portugal (A) and Sweden (C) while the Cadet Girls of Tin-Tin Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos will play against Italy, Slovakia and a Portugal/Romania mix team.
In both the Junior and Cadet Girls competitions two sides progress from the group stage but in the Cadet Boys tournament only one side advances which makes the work harder for Weerasinghe and Mabey.
The German Boys are the favourites in the junior competition with the fourth, fifth and seventh seeds in their ‘A’ team. Competition will be fierce though as both Portugal (second seeds) and England (third) have great chances of winning. Also watch out for Italy who are led by Leonardo Mutti – the top ranked Junior Boy in the tournament.
The Junior Girls event again looks to be between Portugal and Germany but the Portuguese are strong favourites with Maria Xiao the standout player.
The respective Cadet competitions are a more unpredictable event as many players have no previous international ranking points. For example, the English Boys are 10th seeds but Mabey has no points to his name – despite his quality as a national player.
Likewise the Cadet Girls are eighth seeds because Tsaptsinos (Cadet National Champion) equally has no ranking points to her name.
However, once the team event concludes on Saturday the singles events begin and the seeding is clearer for those events.
The Junior Boys (led by Mutti from Italy) see Walker (10), Morais (15) and Gray (18) all seeded well for the competition. In the Junior Girls, Xiao is the clear favourite while Milwain (13), King (17) and Dawson (21) will battle it out for England. Also in action is Guernsey’s Alice Loveridge, who is on the Olympic Long List and seeded eighth here.
In the Cadets tournament Weerasinghe (6) leads England’s attack on top seed Miguel Angel Vilchez (SPA) while Tin-Tin Ho could be England’s biggest hope as she is seeded second behind Yuan Wan from Germany.
You can keep track of the tournament here with some live streaming over the weekend.