29 May 2014

Spain and Russia reach junior final in Alphen

Match Report

Photo: Jan-Willem de LangeFelix Garcia (ESP)

Second seed Spain and third seed Russia are into Friday’s final of the junior event at the 2014 BNP Paribas World Team Cup after Spain defeated top seed Netherlands in the semifinals.

Spain put an end to the host nation’s hopes of lifting the title, taking both singles rubbers in its semifinal despite an enthusiastic crowd doing its best to lift the home players. 

For the second time this week Felix Garcia Perez came back from match points down to defeat Diede de Groot.

De Groot took the first set on a tiebreak before racing to a 5-1 lead in the second, seemingly to put herself on the brink of closing out the match. However, Garcia Perez however turned things around and managed to level proceedings at 5-5.  De Groot went ahead once more and earned herself two match points at 6-5, but it was not to be and Garcia Perez saved both the match points before taking the second set on a tiebreak. 

The Spaniard continued to go from strength to strength, eventually wrapping up a 76(7) 67(3) 60 victory. 

“It was very difficult. I had to save match points, so really needed to concentrate and I had some good luck,” said Garcia Perez.

This left Spain’s Martin de la Puente to face Dutchman Carlos Anker, currently the world No. 2 player in the boys’ singles junior rankings.

World No. 4 De la Puente raced to the first set with a display of impressive hitting. Anker battled to stay in contention at the start of the second set and the two players were tied at 2-2 before de la Puente once again surged away for a 61 62 win, ensuring Spain victory and a place in the final for the second successive year.

 “It was a good match.  Carlos had all the pressure on him and I just played how I like to play,” said 14-year-old de la Puente.

Russia made a strong start against USA, the winner of Pool A in the round-robin phase of the competition, with Ildus Shaikhislamov defeating Casey Ratzlaff 60 61. Chris Herman put the USA back into contention after coming through his encounter with Artur Saitgareev 63 64, which  meant that for the third time this week USA faced a deciding doubles rubber to determine its fate in the event 

USA looked to build on the momentum created by Herman when he took to the court alongside Conner Stroud for the doubles and the duo raced to a 3-0 first set lead. However, the Russians found their range and with some big hitting ended up taking the set 7-5. USA did not give up and some close games ensued, but Saitgareev and Shaikhislamov were ultimately too strong and booked Russia’s place in the final with a 75 63 victory.

In the other matches on the fourth day of the junior event, which is once again supported by the Johan Cruyff Foundation, Great Britain and Chile played for fifth place and split the singles rubbers.

Once more it came down to a deciding match tiebreak after the teams also split sets in the doubles, but Chile’s Alexander Cataldo and Brayan Tapia prevailed 64 57 (10-3) to defeat fifth seed Great Britain 2-1 and clinch fifth place.  

Malaysia also beat Turkey 3-0 to take seventh place after Mohamad Firdaus Ibrahim and Nazri Jefri dropped just four games between them in their two singles rubbers.