The European team, with the Spanish players Cayetana Fernández and Andrea Revuelta, managed to win for the third time in the history of the PING Junior Solheim Cup, beating the United States team by 13 to 11 and after a spectacular comeback on the last day in Sylvania Country Club, in Ohio (USA).
Cayetana and Andrea, both from Madrid, are friends, colleagues and even rivals, as during the last edition of La Copa de S.M. La Reina, when they met in semifinals. On that occasion, the victory fell on the side of Cayetana, who would end up winning the tournament against the German Charlotte Back.
Both players are two clear examples of the quality of Spanish amateur golf and for this reason they were chosen directly by the captain of the 2021 PING Junior Solheim Cup, Annika Sorenstam, to be part of the team.
Cayetana and Andrea received the communication that they had been selected for the European team of the PING Junior Solheim Cup by phone and it was Annika Sorenstam herself who spoke with them in person.
“We were in the Interterritorial Absoluto, I was playing and when I finished, I saw several missed calls from a hidden number on my mobile. At first I thought it might be a joke, so when they called me back I was a little bit in anticipation, but when I heard speaking in English I immediately realized it was Anikka Sorenstam. She introduced herself, she told me that they had chosen me to play the PING Junior Solheim Cup and she was very happy that I was part of the team”, recalls Cayetana.
“When I hung up the phone I couldn’t believe it, I was so happy. I immediately called my parents to tell them about it and it was a very emotional moment. I knew that she was among the candidates but I did not know that she had been chosen”, continues.
In Andrea’s case, it was also Annika Sorenstam who told her by phone, but later, since her cell phone had restricted calls from hidden numbers. “I saw that she had several missed calls and I also thought it was a joke, but when I saw Cayetana pick up the phone and leave the table – we were at a tournament together – I made signs to her and she told me that Annika was speaking. It was incredible. So I understood that my calls were for the same reason,” says Andrea.
“The conversation was quite short. She told me that I was on the team. I thanked her and I was very excited. I knew that she was going to call me to tell me that she was joining the European team, but when you talk to her and see that it is true, you feel enormous joy”, she recalls.
“She told me that she couldn’t tell anyone, but it was impossible. I told my parents and my friends,” says Andrea.
Cayetana and Andrea agree on the added joy of having another Spanish woman on the team. “I loved that they also chose Andrea, since playing with another Spaniard is a very important support. We were able to play together and the truth is that Andrea and I get along very well in the Foursome matches. I love playing with her”, confesses Cayetana.
“With ‘Cata’ I have played many Foursomes, we get along phenomenally. We started out beating the American pair, which was made up of two of the strongest players on the American team – Megha Ganne and Amari Avery – but we ended up losing on the last hole. In any case, we played very well and fought until the end”, points out Andrea.
“Andrea and I get along very well together. We have played Foursomes in other tournaments like Interterritoriales. Winning is complicated, but we had a great time and we fought until the end, which is the important thing”, adds Cayetana.
The two young players also confess the nerves they felt when they reached the tee of the 1st hole in the first Foursomes match of the last PING Junior Solheim Cup. “When I was a child, I used to get very nervous in the championships when I got to the 1st tee, but over time I got over it. However, at the PING Junior Solheim Cup I had that feeling again. I told ‘Cata’: ‘I’m very nervous’ and she looked at me and said: ‘Me too’. And besides, I came out first. From the tee the fairway looked very, very narrow. Having ‘Cata’ by my side helped me a lot to cope with those nerves”, says Andrea.
Being under the command of a legend like Annika Sorenstam, far from imposing, was an incentive. “In the beginning, she imposes a bit, but she was always very close and gave very motivating talks. She made us excited. I have no doubt that one of the reasons we managed to win was because of her. She was a great captain. And when she went through the field, there were times when she encouraged us in Spanish. She told us: ‘Come on, girls!’”, says Cayetana.
“Anikka made it very easy for us. She helped us a lot taking pressure off us. She is a person who did everything with humility and you did not feel pressured. That helped us a lot”, agrees Andrea.
And that’s how she achieved an almost impossible comeback in the singles matches on the last day. “I remember the whole team being in the meeting room. We had to win 9 matches out of 12. Annika started to speak and there was an incredible silence. The words came to you so much, it was incredible. I have no doubt that we won thanks to that”, explains Andrea.
“Yes, I remember that talk. Annika said that she didn’t care what the score was, that we should enjoy the experience because maybe we only had it once in a lifetime, that we go out on the field to enjoy it, that we go for it all and that if we won, fine, and if not, that nothing was happening,” says Cayetana.
“In singles, I had a quite complicated match –against Yana Wilson- that ended in a draw on the last hole and when I saw how the rest of the matches were going and I saw that we were coming back, I went to encourage my teammates who were still playing . Every time you saw the victory closer and the truth is it was a big comeback. And Annika’s talk had a lot to do with it, in which she didn’t put pressure on us, but rather she told us: ‘Go out and enjoy’ ”, recalls Cayetana
Cayetana and Andrea’s particular background in the 2021 PING Junior Solheim Cup also left them with a little thorn because they failed to win any matches. Both lost their Foursome and Fourball matches, while Cayetana drew their individual matchup and Andrea lost hers. “Having not managed to win any match does leave a thorn, but in this tournament the important thing is the team and I hardly remember it now. Yes, I would have liked to win all my points but the important thing is the final result. In my singles match, for example, Yana Wilson made a ten meters’ putt to tie on the last hole and you can’t do anything about it. You only can congratulate her”, recalls Cayetana.
Something harder with herself is Andrea remembering her result in the singles: “I felt very bad when I lost my match. I felt that I had not given my best and that I could have won, but I immediately changed my mind and went to cheer the team. It makes you angry not to have won any points, although the important thing is the team”.
In any case, the PING Junior Solheim Cup experience goes beyond winning or losing. It represents the opportunity for the best junior players in the world to get to know each other and promote values as essential as respect, friendship or camaraderie.
“In the last PING Junior Solheim Cup, all the European players got along very well from the beginning. I think that was another point in favor for us to achieve victory. We already knew each other before, we had competed with each other and we had a very good relationship. Andrea and I get along very well with the Italian Francesca Fiorellini, we are very close friends and whenever we see each other in a tournament we greet with affection. You always have the memory of having won the PING Junior Solheim Cup together”, highlights Cayetana.
“Regarding the relationship with the American players, at first we were more distant but as days went by we got to know each other better, we all went on the bus together and played music from different countries. It was fun. I had a great time. It is a memory that will stay with me for a lifetime,” she adds.
“We made a team in a very short time and I think was one of the keys to our victory”, agrees Andrea.
With those experiences and those memories, it is not surprising that both Cayetana and Andrea have the date of the next PING Junior Solheim Cup marked in red, which will be held in La Zagaleta on September 18 and 19, 2023. Both don’t have doubt. “We would like to play the PING Junior Solheim Cup again, but above all, the Solheim Cup. That is our goal for the future”, they declare almost in unison.
And if they propose it, surely they will achieve it.