Berkhamsted Elite Tennis Academy star Joel Pierleoni and his doubles partner have become the first British pair to win a major European crown in 22 years.
Joel and doubles partner Jack Pinnington Jones were competing last week in the U14 European Championships in Most in the Czech Republic.
The duo navigated their way through some very strong opposition including the best players from Lithuania, Sweden and Switzerland to make it to the semi-finals.
They then took on a highly-fancied pair from Denmark, Elmer Moller and Holger Rune – Rune would go on to win the singles event. After a shaky start which cost them the first set 1-6, Joel and Jack began to find their feet in the second to get an early break and square the match 6-3 and send it to a deciding match tiebreak.
Match tiebreaks are nervy encounters, where the result can turn quickly.
Fortunately, for Joel and Jack they raced to an early lead which they never surrendered to book their place in the European Championship final 1-6, 6-3, 10-6.
In the tournament decider they took on Spanish duo Carlos Alcarez and Daniel Rincon, who they had already beaten this season in a category 1 event in Portugal back in April.
The previous match had been tight, with Joel and Jack managing to squeak a tight three-set win 10-7 in the match tiebreak.
There was a different feel to this encounter as Joel and Jack went into it with a strong focus and high energy, which saw them storm out of the blocks to a 6-1, 2-0 lead.
Alcarez and Rincon did steady the ship to get the match back on serve and lead 3-2 to ask a few tough questions of the British pair’s resolve.
But Joel and Jack stood up to the challenge to win the next four games to take the match and the title to become U14 European Champions.
The last British pair to win the U14 European crown was Mark Hilton and Simon Dickson back in 1995 so this victory ends a 22-year wait.
Joel’s coach Tyrell Diaz Stevens said: “Joel has worked extremely hard over the years and in particular in 2017 where he has spent multiple weeks on the road with the national U14 team as well as training blocks in Spain and at home in Berkhamsted.
“This result is a culmination of the work he has put into his tennis.
“I’m very pleased for Joel personally and his family as well as all the members of the Berkhamsted Elite Tennis Academy team who have worked with Joel since he joined the academy at seven years old.
“A big thank you also goes to his school, Chesham Grammar, who have been very supportive of his tennis.”
This week Joel is in Belgium for his final European tennis regular-season event of the summer.
With a good result this week, Joel will qualify for the U14 Tennis Europe Masters in October, which is an invitation-only event for the top eight players in his age group in Europe.