Photo: Mathilde DsuolRussia junior team
Russia won its first BNP Paribas World Team Cup junior title on Friday’s fifth day of competition at Nieuwe Sloot Tennis Centre in Alphen, Netherlands, as top seed USA and second seed Great Britain earned their places the final of the quad event.
Felix Garcia Perez of Spain faced Ildus Shaikhislamov in the opening singles rubber of the junior final after Spain had beaten Russia 3-0 in the round-robin pool tie between the two countries earlier in the week, but there was to be a drastic change in fortunes.
Shaikhislamov reversed the score of their previous meeting, beating Garcia Perez 63 46 64 to give Russia the lead. The Russian raced to take the first set and was up a break in the second set before Garcia Perez battled back to level the rubber. A repeat of the Spanish player’s semifinal comeback appeared to be on the cards as he opened up a 3-0 lead in the final set, but the Russian fought his way back to take the match 63 46 64.
This left Martin de la Puente to play Viktoriia Lvova and the Cruyff Foundation Junior Masters boys’ singles finalist put Spain back in contention, defeating the girls’ singles world No. 1 63 61.
As the final entered the deciding doubles rubber, Russia clinched a close in a tiebreak, but Garcia Perez and de la Puente bounced back race through the second set without dropping a game. With the momentum appearing to be all going the one way, some big hitting from the Russians redressed the balance and gave them an early lead in the crucial match tiebreak, which they maintained to close out a famous 76(1) 06 (10-3) victory and earn Russia its first BNP Paribas World Team Cup title in any event.
“I am very proud of my team. For Ildus it is his first World Team Cup and he has not played many tournaments outside of Russia. Going into the final I didn’t know if they had more than a 30 per cent chance of winning, but they have all been strong,” said Russia’s captain Olga Murina.
Netherlands faced USA in the bronze medal play-off, with both teams having also played each other in the round-robin phase of the competition earlier in the week, when USA upset top seed Netherlands. The singles rubbers went the same way, as Diede de Goot beat Casey Ratzlaff and Chris Herman defeated Carlos Anker to again force a deciding doubles, but this time Netherlands reversed the outcome of the pool tie, Anker and de Groot beating Connor Stroud and Herman 75 62 to earn the host nation the bronze medal in the junior event for the second successive year.
USA and Great Britain into quad final
Israel faced top seed USA in the quad event semifinals in a rematch of the 2013 final and London 2012 gold medallist Noam Gershony defeated Greg Hasterok 61 60 in the first rubber. World No. 1 David Wagner claimed another one-side contest to beat former world No. 1 Shraga Weinberg 61 61 in the second singles, with the contest unsurprisingly set up to be decided in a doubles rubber.
The experience of USA duo Nick Taylor and Wagner, the three time Paralympic champions, showed as they managed to take the first set 6-4 and then proceeded to race to a 5-2 lead, opening up the spaces between the Israeli pair of Boaz Kramer and Noam Gershony. With Wagner serving for the match, the American partnership had two match points at 5-2, 40-15, but Kramer and Gershony stayed strong and took a 6-5 lead before Taylor and Wagner rediscovered their form to force a second set tiebreak.
Kramer and Gershony went on to clinch the tiebreak and, with the highly-charged contest for a spot in the final to be decided by a match tie-break, the two teams exchanged the first ten points before the USA earned a commanding 8-5 lead. Taylor and Wagner kept hold of the advantage to have two match points at 9-7 and they only needed one of them as Wagner placed a cross court backhand perfectly to wrap up a memorable 64 67(3) (10-7) victory.
“We had a game plan. We stuck with it, but it didn’t work in the match points and maybe we got a little tentative. It was tough, they are a good team and they are a strong team. We knew anything was possible.”
“It was a really intense and close match. I am glad we pulled through it. Give credit to them, they played really well. I am really happy and looking forward to the final,” added Taylor.
The United States will face second seed Great Britain in Saturday’s final. Great Britain got off to a winning start against Japan in their semifinal, with Jamie Burdekin (GBR) taking the first rubber against Shota Kawano 61 64. World No. 3 Andy Lapthorne then put Great Britain’s passage to the final beyond doubt after coming through against Mitsuteru Moroishi 64 62.
In the play-off for fifth Canada defeated Italy 2-1 and Sweden gained an unassailable 2-0 lead against Austria to finish seventh.