14 Oct 2015

Japan's Junior Davis Cup team faring well in Osaka

News Article

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Hiromasa ManoToru Harie (JPN

For eight of the remaining players at the Osaka Mayor’s Cup - six boys and two girls - their road to Japan came via Spain where they played the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas.

The Grade A Osaka Mayor’s Cup is the usual brand of tennis for a tennis player, where they go out onto the court all on their own and compete against another opponent. Most enjoy the thrill of seeing what they can do as an individual - how to think out a match, choose the shots to play, etc., etc., etc.

But when playing Junior Davis and Junior Fed Cup a player has an opportunity to feel the spirit of being part of a team, and playing for one’s country. They also have the benefit of experiencing having a coach on court who can offer strategy advice on changeovers.

The three Japanese boys - Toru Horie, Yuta Shimizu and Yunosuke Tanaka - who placed just out of medal contention in fourth place at the Junior Davis Cup event in Madrid are all into the third round at Osaka.

The 15th-seeded Horie came through a tough three-setter for a 36 61 76 (3) win against Karlo Boljat of Croatia. Shimizu also battled through three sets before posting a 76 (4) 36 62 upset over 14th-seeded Robert Wrzesinski of Lithuania. For his part, Tanaka moved along to the third round with ease by taking a 62 62 win against Borna Gojo of Croatia.

It won’t be an easy road ahead for Shimizu and Horie with both squaring off against top flight Korean talent.

Shimizu will face top seed Seong Chan Hong of Korea for a place in the quarterfinals. Hong had little trouble ousting Nawakarn Khunjan of Thailand 62 62 for his berth in the third round.

Horie will take on second-seeded Yunseong Chung on the other side of the draw. Chung also courted a 62 62 second round win when he dismissed Tomohiro Masabayashi of Japan.

Tanaka will have a third round meeting against sixth-seeded Alex De Minaur of Australia, who outlasted Piotr Matuszewski of Poland 61 64.

De Minaur was one of two Aussie boys who represented Australia in Junior Davis Cup and are still in contention for the Osaka title. The other boy is 16th-seeded Alexei Popyrin, who struggled to come through with a 67 (4) 75 75 second round win against Sho Shimabukuro of Japan.

Popyrin will face 11th-seeded Lo Chien Hsun of Chinese Taipei, who ousted Hungarian Akos Kotorman 76 (3) 36 75.

The other boy who made the grade at Junior Davis Cup is 12th-seeded Nicola Kuhn of Germany, who defeated Yuta Kikuchi of Japan 75 62. Kuhn is set to take on fifth-seeded Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia in the third round. Kecmanovic posted a swift 61 61 win against Finn Bass of Great Britain.

Japan’s own Mai Hontama had the great honor of representing her country as a member of the Japanese Junior Fed Cup team.

Hontama is also doing Japan proud in Osaka by reaching the third round compliments of a 61 64 second round win against Georgina Axon of Great Britain. Hontama will now play sixth-seeded Lucie Kankova of Czech Republic for a quarterfinal spot. Kankova defeated Du Zhima of China 62 61.

Top seed Katie Swan, who represented Great Britain at the Junior Fed Cup, was taken the distance by Cho I-Hsuan of Chinese Taipei before scoring a 76 (5) 36 64 win. Swan will take on Haruna Arakawa of Japan in the third round after Arakawa defeated fellow Japanese player Kanna Nishida of Japan 61 60.

Japan’s Lisa-Marie Rioux scored the big upset of the day on Wednesday when she ousted second-seeded Zheng Wushuang of China 26 63 61. Next up for Rioux is Japan’s Misaki Matsuda, who ousted Naho Sato, also of Japan, 62 61.