GAME, SET, MATCH AND CHAMPIONSHIP - BELARUS!
The one-time Soviet republic of Belarus has contributed only two women to Super-Hair in the 21st century -- both very athletic. Yuliya Nesterenko became the world's fastest woman at the 2004 Olympics, and earned a place on our Top Ten Tresses list. Now Victoria Azarenka has moved one step beyond that. Months after becoming the top-ranked women's tennis player on the planet, she's claimed a virtual hair trophy for her country -- as Belarus is the winner of EuroCup 2012!
The luck of the draw put Azarenka in a tough group, with what some considered a championship-level test in the very first match of group play. She topped Georgia Salpa of Greece there -- then her thick long locks built unstoppable momentum, with help from a loyal base of Hair Fans. Belarus breezed through the playoff rounds, spilling Spanish actress Penelope Cruz in the Championship Final with a winning margin of 75 percent.
Several voters commented the title tilt was a "gorgeous" grudge match, with one calling the choice a "tough call." Yet Cruz could not match the "Euro-2012" success of Spain's soccer squad. And in an amazing feat of "multitasking," Azarenka happened to clinch the title mere minutes after losing a Wimbledon semifinal match to Serena Williams.
The Consolation Final provided extra-time drama, as some backers of England's Kate Beckinsale and Romania's Lorena Menghia may not have realized they were in a fight for third place. They were deadlocked at the deadline, but England prevailed after six hours of overtime with 52 percent of the vote. That matters because England received an automatic entry to Super-Hair World Cup IV in 2014, while Romania did not and must face interzonal qualifying.
After open nominations, a live draw for groups in our chat room and two national qualifying weeks, EuroCup 2012 had six weeks of group play to determine four preliminary winners....
SPAIN: PENELOPE CRUZ.
The only returnee from EuroCup 2008 conquered Sara Carbonero in national qualifying, then avenged a close 2008 loss to Lithuania by winning a showdown rematch in Match 6.
Spain 12 points, Lithuania (Ieva Gervinskaite) 10, Sweden (Jessica Gardefjord) 3, Iceland (Gudbjorg Hilmarsdottir) 0.
BELARUS: VICTORIA AZARENKA.
The top tennis player proved she has very competitive hair as well, going undefeated in arguably the toughest group. A "Facebook fakeout" during the tournament with a photo of a short wig didn't fool loyal supporters.
Belarus 10 points, Greece (Georgia Salpa) 8, Ukraine (Olga Kurylenko) 2, Denmark (Caroline Wozniacki) 0.
ROMANIA: LORENA MENGHIA.
The biggest surprise of the tournament may have been this former track star at Nebraska (and sister of a model), who's now in graduate business studies in China.
Romania 7 points, Russia (Anna Trebunskaya) 5, Ireland (Holly Carpenter) 1, Netherlands (Doutzen Kroes) 1.
ENGLAND: KATE BECKINSALE
The Crown Award-winning actress won a four-way national fight, then dramatically came from behind in Match 6 to escape with the group thanks to a tie and better winning percentage.
England 11 points, Turkey (Pallas Hupé) 11, Belgium (Laura Beyne) 3, Italy (Carla Bruni-Sarkozy) 0.
For standings, results and a complete match schedule, click here.
SUPER-HAIR NATIONAL RANKINGS - after EuroCup 2012
1 Mexico .. 2 United States .. 3 Belarus .. 4 Spain .. 5 Colombia
6 Iran .. 7 England .. 8 Romania .. 9 Dominican Republic .. 10 Canada
11 Australia .. 12 Turkey .. 13 Kuwait .. 14 China .. 15 Lithuania
PHOTO CREDITS: Beckinsale courtesy Belfast Telegraph; Cruz courtesy Harper's Bazaar.
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REVIEW: EUROCUP 2008 2004
OTHER SUPER-HAIR CUPS: World Cup Cup of the Americas AAA Cup
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