Photo: Giorgio MaiozziLucia Kankova and Anna Kynklova (CZE)
PROSTEJOV, CZECH REPUBLIC: Friday’s action saw places 5-12 decided in both the boys’ and girls’ competitions at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals.
With the players contesting the finals, the third place matches, and the 13th-16th play-offs given a day’s rest, the other teams were given the chance to shine and to thrill the fans and they did not disappoint.
Hosts Czech Republic were competing for 5th place in both the boys’ and girls’ competitions following two excellent victories yesterday and a string of good performances throughout the week.
The Czech girls, having beaten No. 5 seeds Canada yesterday, took on top seeds USA today. Karolina Berankova was chosen to play the opening rubber for the hosts and she took on Rachel Lim of USA.
The American started the stronger of the two and took the opening set 63. Berankova upped her game in the second set, winning it by the same scoreline to level the rubber. A close, tightly contested final set was eventually won by the American for a 63 36 64 victory and a 1-0 lead in the tie.
The second rubber saw American No. 1 Claire Liu take on Czech Anna Kynclova. The American proved too strong, winning the match 63 62 to give USA an unassailable 2-0 lead.
The Czechs went into their final tie of the week unbeaten in doubles rubbers and the two teams agreed that the doubles would be played. Kynclova teamed up with Lucia Kankova for the Czech Republic and they took on American duo Lim and Elysia Bolton. The Czechs started well, clinching the first set 63 but the Americans fought back and levelled the rubber, taking the second set 61.
Both teams battled hard, with neither seemingly put off by playing a dead rubber – each pair wanted to win. The final set ebbed and flowed and eventually went into a tiebreak. It was the Czechs who would emerge triumphant, claiming the tiebreak 7-3 to maintain their perfect doubles record this week.
Czech captain Lubomir Stych was quick to praise his players, “We are in 6th place, which was much more than our expectations before the tournament. So I’m quite happy.” Kynklova, who played in each of the doubles rubbers, said “I’m so happy that we won all the doubles. It means so much for me.”
The tie of the day came on Centre Court where USA took on Korea, Republic for 7th place. The opening rubber saw Keenan Mayo take on Seonyong Han. Mayo started the stronger of the two players and claimed a close opening set 63. Han responded to take the second set 63 and force a deciding set.
Both players lifted their level of play in the final set and, with nothing to split them, they moved into a tiebreak. Mayo quickly opened up a lead in the tiebreak and the Korean was unable to respond, with the American earning a 63 36 76(4) win to give USA the lead.
The second rubber saw Uisung Park face Roscoe Bellamy with Park knowing a win was needed to keep his country in the tie. He played well and, backed by vociferous support, earned a 64 63 win to level the tie.
The doubles featured both American singles players who took on Han and Yeongseok Jeong. In a match that lasted a little over 2 hours, the Americans claimed a straight-set victory but it was far from easy as they won two tiebreaks 76(4) 76(6), having been 5-2 down in the second set tiebreak.
The Czech boys defied the seedings to finish in 5th place after they defeated Argentina 2-1. The Czechs came into the week with low expectations having not been seeded but have delighted the home crowd with some excellent performances.
Evzen Holis easily defeated Santiago Franze 60 64 in the opening rubber before Sebastian Baez levelled the tie, overcoming Tomas Jirousek 63 64. Holis then teamed up with Ondrej Styler to defeat Baez and Thiago Agustin Tirante in a thrilling doubles rubber 75 67(2) 62.
After the match, Czech captain Jiri Kulich said “We finished in 5th position, I think this is a great result and I think the guys played very good matches. Today they beat Argentina – it was quite a tough match.”
Elsewhere in the girls’ draw, Canada claimed 7th place with a 2-0 win over Colombia, Poland defeated Chinese Taipei 2-1 to finish 9th and China overcame Spain 2-1 for 11th place.
In the boys’ draw, Poland finished 9th after defeating New Zealand 2-0 and Colombia fought back from 1-0 down to defeat Thailand 2-1 and claim 11th place.
All of today’s results can be found here.