Photo: Martin SidorjakGianni Ross (USA)
PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: On a day when temperatures reached 37 degrees Celsius, USA continued their march to the semifinals in both the boys’ and girls’ competitions at the World Junior Tennis Finals with two 3-0 victories. The boys defeated Turkey and the girls overcame Great Britain.
The boys got off to a good start against their European opponents when Samuele Riffice defeated Kaya Gore 63 61. Gianni Ross sealed USA’s victory with a 64 62 victory over Ergi Kirkin before Riffice teamed up with Patrick Kypson to seal a 3-0 win with a 62 62 victory over Gore and Can Kaya. Speaking after their doubles victory, they said “It’s pretty hot but you keep moving and you don’t really think about it.”
The American girls got off to a disastrous start when Britain’s Katie Swan won the first set of the opening rubber 60 against Michaela Gordon. Gordon upped her game at 06 14 to fight back and take the second set 64 before taking the final set by the same score line to put USA 1-0 up in the tie.
Catherine Bellis, considered one of the top girls at this year’s tournament, then put USA 2-0 up with a 62 62 victory over Anastasia Mikheeva. Gordon and Claire Liu then faced Swan and Georgina Axon in the doubles. The first set was close and went to a tiebreak, with USA just holding off the British challenge to take it 7-5, before closing out the tie by taking the second set 63 to seal their victory. When asked about how they went about combatting the heat, the girls said “you just have to drink a lot.”
The upset of the day came when India’s girls defeated Spain, the sixth seeds. Things did not start well for the Indians, however, when Paula Arias Manjon won the opening rubber 60 60 to give Spain a 1-0 lead.
India fought back, and Pranjala Yadlapalli levelled the tie 1-1 with a 63 63 victory over Eva Guerrero Alvarez. Yadlapalli then came in to the doubles team, partnering Himani Mor, and they took the opening set 62. The Spanish pair of Arias Manjon and Noella Bouzo Zanotti forced their way back into the match, taking the second set 63.
There was a 10 minute break in between the second and third sets due to the heat rule, and it was India who recovered best after the break, winning the final set 61 and sealing an excellent victory. “It was the decider so it was a great win” the girls said.
Great Britain’s boys claimed their second victory in their group when they defeated Chile 2-1. Felipe Escalona maintained his perfect record in the competition when he won the opening singles rubber 63 62 against Finn Bass to put Chile 1-0 up. When Max Stewart then defeated Nicolas Acevedo 75 62 the tie was forced into a deciding doubles rubber.
Stewart and Bass teamed up to take on Escalona and Acevedo and they won a very close doubles rubber 64 64 in an hour and 24 minutes. When asked about their performance, the Brits said “that’s the best we’ve played together”. Talking about the tournament, they said “it kinda makes you feel like a pro”. Britain face France tomorrow with the winners progressing to the semifinals.
France defeated Japan 3-0 but once again it was a close tie. Matteo Martineau won the opening rubber 63 63 to get his nation off to a good start. Yunosuke Tanaka then took the first set off France’s No. 1 Corentin Moutet 61, but Moutet came out fighting after the end of the first set and won the next two 63 61 to give France an unassailable lead. They went on to win the doubles in straight sets with the second set going to a tiebreak which the French pair won 10-8.
It was a good day for the host nation as both Czech teams won. The boys produced an excellent performance to defeat eighth seeds Brazil 2-1 and the girls held off a Romanian challenge to win by the same score line. Both Czech teams still stand a chance of reaching the semifinals, however, the boys’ fate is out of their hands as they will require other results to also go their way.
Australia’s girls, the No. 3 seed, were taken to a deciding doubles rubber by an unseeded Italian side. Tatiana Pieri produced an excellent performance to defeat Jaimee Fourlis 64 76(2) to give Italy the lead. Destanee Aiava was pushed all the way by Arianna Capogrosso before eventually coming through the encounter 46 75 61. Australia then won the doubles 63 64 to keep their hopes of reaching the semifinals alive.
Australia’s boys remain on top of their group after they defeated Italy 3-0 earlier. The stand-out rubber in that tie was between the nations’ top players, Australian Alexei Popyrin and Italy’s Nicolas Merzetti. Popyrin was seemingly coasting to victory when serving at 61 5-2 up, but Merzetti rallied and forced a tiebreak, which he then won 7-3. Popyrin proved too strong in the end, however, winning a tense final set 64.
A full round-up of today's matches can be found here.
You can keep up to date with all of the matches through live scores.