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As the sun set on Monday at the Wodonga Tennis Centre, the 2023 National Grass Court Championships in the 12s and 14s were complete. A week of junior tennis of the highest order saw the very best in the land travel far and wide to capture one of the Crown Jewels on the Australian junior tour.

Four opportunities in the singles field as the finals started in warm conditions on world class grass courts and as all four finals were complete a pattern had emerged. Three of the four National Champions were left handed.

It started in the boys 12s where left handed Victorian Raphael Savelli was the champion after another dogged performance which became the theme of his week. He simply had too much determination and variety for Flynn Coventry-Searle of NSW. 7-6 (7-5) 6-4 for Savelli who may be small by stature but he is loud and full of fight.

The 12s girls division was all one way traffic and after an escape in a tough semi final it was Vesna Marinkov of NSW who dominated the final over Jennifer Ott also of NSW 6-0 6-2. Marinkov was too solid from the baseline and used her physical dominance to become the National Champion.

The girls 14s division saw #3 seed Natalie Gaft take on #5 seed Jizelle Sibai and after a very nervous and slow start from Gaft her hard hitting game came back to her. After losing an error riddled first set 2-6 Gaft came flying home winning 2-6 6-2 6-2 with some wonderful strike first tennis.

The boys 14s ended in a feel good story and an unexpected victory for William Genberg of QLD. A lucky loser Genberg wasn’t sure if he was even playing til 24 hours before the first ball was hit. Little idea on whether he was in and with no accommodation organised Genberg decided at that moment and told his mother that if he got in he was going to win it. He went on and played the tennis of his life and #4 seed Rafael Fulmanski of the NT was no match for the Queenslander. Genberg took the first set 6-1 and led 2-1 when Fulmanski could take no more and retired with what seemed to be an arm injury. The lucky loser Genberg fairy tale was complete. Australian National Grass Court Champion.

Four new National Champions in their age group were crowned in a great week of top level junior tennis. The individual tennis journey is a long one but a big box has been ticked by all the Champions this past week. Something they can be proud of and look back on in years to come. In the mean time their journey and their development continues throughout 2023. One thing is for sure. They are off to a dream start.

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