Photo: Radek VanaWinning Slovak Republic Girls team at the 2012 World Junior Tennis Finals
PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: The USA boys and Slovak Republic girls teams won the 2012 World Junior Tennis titles in Prostejov, Czech Republic.
Against USA in the boys' final, Korea was hoping to defend the title they won for the first time last year, and a sizeable crowd on centre court witnessed a match full of high-quality tennis. The first rubber saw Yun Seong Chung (KOR) face Michael Mmoh (USA). Fourteen-year-old Mmoh is 6 feet 1 inch tall and used all of his height and power to gain an early advantage over the Korean. Once the resident of Brandenton, Florida got ahead he never looked like losing and closed out the match 64 63.
In the second singles rubber Korean No. 1 Duck Hee Lee took on Francis Tiafoe. Lee had not dropped a set in singles up until then and all signs pointed to a Korean victory, but it was in fact the American who started stronger. Like his teammate Mmoh, Tiafoe used his powerful serve and booming groundstrokes to control the match. Lee was unable to replicate the form of his idol Roger Federer and Tiafoe closed out the match 75 64, his victory giving the USA their first boys' title at the World Junior Tennis finals since 2008.
Sixth seeds Japan faced fourth seeds Brazil in the 3rd place play-off on court 6. Riki Oshima (JPN) played Lucas Koelle (BRA) in the first rubber and Koelle, from Sao Paulo, faced a tough task against Oshima who had been in excellent form all week. The result never looked in doubt with Oshima winning 64 61. The second singles was a much closer affair between Renta Tokuda (JPN) and Orlando Luz (BRA), and the match was evenly poised at one set all before the Brazilian started suffering from cramps. Tokuda, from Hiroshima, seized his opportunity and prevailed 64 26 62.
South Africa avoided the wooden spoon after defeating Mexico in the fifteenth place playoff. Jandre Lessing won the opening singles for the Proteas before Santiago Suarez levelled the tie for the Mexicans. The South Africans won their third doubles rubber of the week to seal victory.
The first rubber of the girls’ final was an epic battle between Jazzi Plews (GBR) and Tereza Mihalikova (SVK) lasting just under three hours. Mihalikova prevailed in three sets with Plews saving several match points before finally succumbing 76(4) 46 75 for Slovakia to take the lead in the tie. Next up was Slovakia’s Victoria Kuzmova against Gabriella Taylor with the British girl looking for revenge after losing in three sets to the Slovak just one month ago. This was Taylor’s day as she raced to a 61 64 win over her opponent in under an hour to level the tie and keep Team GB’s hopes of a first ever title win alive.
Kuzmova and Mihalikova teamed up in the deciding doubles to take on Maia Lumsden and Jazzi Plews. The Slovaks got off to a flying start to take the first set 62, then kept that momentum going into the second set to seal the victory for their country for the first time since 1996.
The 3rd place play-off was the first tie of the day to be decided as fourth seeds Germany stormed to victory against hosts Czech Republic. Katharina Gerlach took the first point decisively by dropping just three games against Denisa Cichova, before Lena Rueffer delivered the second and final blow, posting a 61 61 win to seal the victory and claim 3rd place.
The 15th place play-off was a closely-fought battle between Thailand and Colombia. A lot was at stake with the losing region receiving one less qualifying place for next year’s Finals. Manita Bootsarakomvisit gave Thailand the lead with a three-set victory over Diana Monsalve, then Juliana Valero levelled the tie for Colombia against Napharat Sawangkaew. The Thai duo of Bootsarakomvisit and Wijitbanjong Pakkaro came out on top in the deciding doubles, meaning that Thailand won and South America will have one less qualifying place at next year’s World Junior Tennis Finals.
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