26 Sep 2012

BLOG: Junior Davis Cup & Fed Cup Day 2

Match Report

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicQuentin Halys (FRA)



19:07 The final recap of the day from Sandra Harwitt is already available. :

When the second day of play was over on Wednesday at the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup Finals by BNP Paribas at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona the most drama occurred in the girls’ competition.

Continue reading...

17:02 American Noah Rubin has played one of the most thrilling matches of the day. You can listen to his views of the match on the audio interview at the bottom of this article.

Surviving match points

It doesn’t always come easy, but a tough win can often be more satisfying than an easy victory.

That’s just the situation American Noah Rubin was in today when he bounced back after facing two match points in the second set to beat Ken Onishi of Japan 46 76 (4) 62.

Rubin escaped one match point that Onishi, serving at 5-3, had at 40-15 in the ninth game of the second set. The American than won four straight points to break serve.

Onishi also had a match point in the tiebreaker with the score in his favor at 6-5 but Rubin won the next three points to force a decisive third set.

Serving at 3-1 in the final set, Rubin returned the service break to Onishi when he double-faulted the game away at 40-30. But he was able to win the next three games to close out the match that went only one minute shy of three hours.

Last we saw Rubin he offered us a few words for our audio and then headed off for a massage.

Team USA was playing the doubles but with Stefan Kozlov winning his singles 76 (4) 63 over Naoki Nakagawa the USA will be the winner of today’s meeting with Japan.

16:32 Pictures from the Jumior Davis Cup tie Brazil vs Russia have been added to the Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup Photo Gallery.

15:54 The 16-year-old Egyptian Fed Cup team player Dona Abo Habaga has been talking to Sandra Harwitt about her experience at the Junior Fed Cup finals.

Watching is wonderful enough

For the second day in a row, Dona Abo Habaga sits patiently watching her Egyptian teammates Mayar Sherif and Sandra Samir play matches. As she sits in the stands she has earbuds in her ears and is listening to music.

“English songs,” said Abo Habaga, when asked what she’s listening to on her iPhone. “Clay Aiken, Rihanna, sometimes Arabic songs.”

The 16-year-old is the third member of the Egyptian Fed Cup squad and has not seen action in two days of play. But she doesn’t really mind because there’s great value to being on her first tennis trip abroad.

“It’s good to watch the best two players in any country and how they’re playing,” Abo Habaga said.

Abo Habaga, who has an ITF combined ranking of No. 479, comes from a traditional family and wears a hijab -- head covering -- even when playing. “Yes, my family is Muslim and it’s not hard to play with it,” she said, smiling.

The Egyptian teen followed her older brother, Sherif, 18, into the sport. Sherif Abo Habaga currently has an ITF combined ranking of No. 471.

“My father saw tennis on TV and liked the sport,” Abo Habaga said. “I start playing when I was four at our club, Ahly, in Egypt.”

For now, Abo Habaga is being excused from classes at school back in Cairo. But when she heads home she’ll return to school with the memories of a trip of a lifetime for a junior player.

Egyptian Fed Cup coach, Hani Nasser, said he hasn’t yet decided whether Abo Habaga will get time on the court beyond practice yet, which will be determined by how the team fares.

But he said that while Dona comes from a more traditional background than the other two girls on the team there’s no discerning differences between the girls. “She’s just like any other 16-year-old,” said Nasser, smiling.

15:40 The Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup photo gallery has been updated with photos from today's Fed Cup ties Italy vs Japan and Germany vs South Africa and Davis Cup France vs Peru. You can check it out here.

13:56 Sandra Harwitt has written this blog article about the famous faces today at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.

12:41 Albert Costa, the former Spanish Davis Cup captain, is at the Real Club de Polo today to watch today's Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup action. You can listen to his thoughts about the competition in the audio interview at the bottom of this Live Blog.

Albert Costa's Junior Highlights:

1991 represented Spain in the NEC World Youth Team Cup Finals

1993 French Junior Open runner-up

1993 European Junior Champs U18 winner

1993 Orange Bowl winner

09:30 Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup

It’s second day action at the 2012 Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup finals by BNP Paribas at the Real Club de Polo de Barcelona.

Undoubtedly, it will be another busy day of tennis on the courts as 32 teams -- 16 boys and 16 girls teams -- will take to the courts to show off their talents. Each draw -- the boys and the girls -- have four groups of four nations for the round-robin portion of the competition. In Wednesday’s action, the winners of each group play the losers from the other match in their foursome.

Special attention is always paid to the top seeds and that would be the USA for both the girls and the boys.

The USA Junior Fed Cup team had a great first round by beating Spain, the host nation, 3-0. This is a particularly notable win in that while the USA has a higher ranked field -- world No. 1 junior Taylor Townsend is an American -- the Spaniards are far more adept at competing on the red clay that barely even exists in the USA. In fact, Spain’s Sara Sorribes stretched Townsend to three long sets before the American walked off with the match win.

In today’s action the USA will take on Korea, who fell to Egypt 3-0 in first day competition on Tuesday. On paper at least, this should be another 3-0 outing for the Americans, but until it plays out there’s no guarantees.

Another girls’ team to keep an eye out for is Latvia. It’s the country’s first appearance in this spectacular junior competition but they are seeded fourth. They scored a 3-0 win over Mexico in first day action, but everyone of their matches went a long three sets and they were the last team on the court as dusk was settling in over Barcelona last night.

Latvia will take on Paraguay, who went down 1-2 to No. 6 seeds Australia on Tuesday, but played the nation from Down Under closely.

When it comes to Junior Davis Cup action for Wednesday, it will also be the Americans that will garner attention as the top seeds.

Yesterday, the Americans took a 2-1 win over Brazil with the team of Noah Rubin and Jared Donaldson losing the doubles match that extended to three sets. Today the USA will face Japan, who won the doubles point against the No. 7 seeds Russia in first day action, but lost the two singles matches. This is an encounter that should also go the way of the Americans, especially with the highly talented 14-year-old Stefan Kozlov -- the baby of the group -- backing up Rubin in the singles.

The 16-year-old Rubin, who has a current combined ranking of No. 16 leads the USA squad. In the past year he’s developed into a contender in the junior arena, but has had mixed results with his best showing at the Grand Slams being a quarterfinal finish at Roland Garros.

In other boys’ action, expect fourth seeds France to have another banner day as they did in beating Mexico in three easy matches on Tuesday. France will face Peru, who fell 0-3 to Korea in the first round-robin pairing.

The French players -- Quentin Halys in second chair and Johan Sebastien Tatlot in lead position -- are big, strong players who have a certain air of confidence. I find it hard to resist referring to Johan Sebastien without tagging on a “Bach” to the end, but he looks to have the potential to be as bright with a tennis racket as the great musician was in composing. In comparison to many of the other boys in attendance here, Tatlot, in physical presence, more resembles a current pro than the 16-year-old he is.

But as it is said, you have to play it out to conclusion to see whether things work out how expected or some surprises are in the offing.


Round Robin Groups

(click on the group for standings and results)

Junior Fed Cup

GROUP A: (1) USA, Spain, Korea and (7) Egypt

GROUP B: (3) Brazil, Japan, Belarus and (5) Italy

GROUP C: (4) Latvia, Mexico, Paraguay and (6) Australia

GROUP D: (2) Russia, Germany, South Africa and (8) China

Junior Davis Cup

GROUP A: (1) USA, Brazil, Japan and (7) Russia

GROUP B: (3) Australia, Morocco, Spain and (6) Argentina

GROUP C: (4) France, Mexico, Peru and (5) Korea

GROUP D: (2) Italy, Egypt, China and (8) Sweden


Noah Rubin - USA Junior Davis Cup Team

Albert Costa - Former Spanish Davis Cup Captain and player