Photo: Paul ZimmerAnhelina Kalinina (UKR) and Iryna Shymanovic (BLR)
Anhelina Kalinina and Iryna Shymanovich overpowered Russian second-seeded pair Darya Kasatkina and Anastasiya Komardina 64 64 to win gold in the girls’ doubles final at the Youth Olympic Tennis Event in Nanjing.
The Ukrainian-Belarusian pair, who had to momentarily forget their friendship during yesterday’s girls’ singles semifinal in a match that Shymanovich edged in three sets, were ruthless on the crucial points in the doubles final and thoroughly deserved to top the podium.
"It's fantastic. Just an unbelievable feeling,” said Kalinina of their triumph, and the 17-year-old from Ukraine knows exactly where she’ll be keeping her gold medal.
“I think on the main wall [at home],” she said. “In the main place of my room."
“Somewhere others can see [for me],” chipped in Shymanovich with a smile.
The girls' triumph helped make up for Kalinina's earlier defeat in the bronze medal singles match, although the teenager insisted she was not too down at missing out on an individual medal.
“I’m not disappointed that much,” said Kalinina. “I didn’t even expect before this tournament that I could reach the semifinals so for me it’s a good achievement.
"After playing the last three tournaments on clay courts, it’s unbelievable to play on such fast, hard courts and reach the semifinals against these tough players.”
Kalinina and Shymanovich's fine week in Nanjing ended without dropping a set together in the doubles – and the latter, in particular, was delighted to win for her nation.
“It means so much because [Belarus] don’t have so many medals,” said Shymanovich, who is a part of the upcoming International 18&U ITF/Grand Slam Development Fund Team to North America 2014. “I’m so happy to put one more medal in our collection.”
For all Kalinina and Shymanovich’s jubilation, the result meant heartbreak for junior Roland Garros champion Kasatkina, who was too distraught to speak afterwards, and partner Komardina.
“It’s hard,” said Komardina, fighting back tears. “It was the last chance to win the gold medal. We just wanted it so bad that when we lost… we couldn’t believe it.
“I think we just wanted it too much. That didn’t help us.”
Despite the tough loss, Komardina admitted that the pair still had perspective on what they had achieved.
“It’s great to take part in this competition and we’re very happy that we could bring a medal to our country," she said. "Everything will be okay. We’ll be ready for the real Olympic Games next time.”
At the opposite end of the spectrum, Akvile Parazinskaite, a bronze medal winner in both the girls’ singles and girls’ doubles alongside Jelena Ostapenko, was in high spirits following her earlier 63 75 triumph over Kalinina in the girls’ singles bronze medal match.
“It feels great,” said the Lithuanian. “From the beginning, everything has been going well. I am really proud of myself and my coaches and my team. I am really happy."