24 Sep 2017

Sublime Czechs win Junior Davis Cup title

News Article

By Tom Moran

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicTeam Czech Republic

BUDAPEST, HUNGARY: Dalibor Svrcina was born in 2002 – nearly five years after Czech Republic won its last Junior Davis Cup by BNP Paribas title. But now, at the age of 14, Svrcina has helped the Czechs to their first victory since 1997, and their third overall, after a perfect week in Budapest.

“We are so happy, we can’t describe the feeling,” Svrcina said. “It’s unbelievable we didn’t lose a match. It’s pretty cool.”

The Czechs have enjoyed a stellar year, comfortably winning the European qualifying to make it to Budapest and enjoying a perfect series of matches here, dropping just three sets in total as they romped to the title.

Svrcina saved his best performance of the week until last, defeating USA’s No. 1 player Govind Nanda to win 62 62. Earlier, Jonas Forejtek had given the Czechs the lead by defeating William Grant 64 75.

“When I play good, I don’t make a lot of mistakes,” Svrcina said – and watching from the sidelines, that is the first thing that strikes you about both Svrcina and Forejtek. They very rarely miss.

“I’m a smart player,” Svrcina added, when asked for what he considered to be his main strength. And that, too, is clear to the observer watching courtside. Svrcina does not hit the ball particularly hard, but outthinks his opponents methodically and patiently. Sometimes – in his first match of the week against Canada’s Justin Boulais and again in the semifinals against Duje Ajdukovic, of Croatia – it can take him a while to figure it out but this week he has managed to deliver in the end.

The strong team spirit in the camp also undoubtedly helps the players relax during the match. “I don’t know,” Svrcina said of the secret to the good atmosphere amongst the Czech boys. “Maybe because we are at the same level, all three guys.”

Forejtek and Andrew Paulson have both undoubtedly played their part. Forejtek won all five of his singles matches this week in straight sets, with Paulson, waiting in the wings for the doubles rubbers, having perhaps been a victim of his teammates’ success, not needed for decisive doubles at any point during the week.

“I think they are smart and they work hard and they love tennis and they just enjoy it,” Czech captain Josef Cihak analysed afterwards, before adding, with just a flicker of a smile, “and they have a good coach.”

Cihak also thought that his team would have had a trickier assignment had Argentina defeated USA in Saturday’s semifinals, opining that his team matched up better with the Americans than they would have done with the Argentinians.

But it is to the USA team’s credit that they did make the final, and despite the disappointment on Sunday, they will have good memories from their week in Budapest – especially from that dramatic decisive doubles victory in the semifinals. For their part, the Argentinians earned themselves a spot on the podium on Sunday, defeating Croatia in the third-place play-off.

This day, however, belonged to the Czechs. “I am very proud and I am very happy. I have very nice guys in the team and it’s a big success for us,” Cihak continued.

“I am not strict. We have rules, and if they’re within the rules, they know what they can do and I am nice to them,” he added when asked whether  his style of captaincy had aided the victory.

Could his team break the rules tonight to celebrate? “No, no, no,” he said. “They can talk with the girls, but they have to stay one metre distance.”