10 Aug 2017

Spain stun USA, set up semifinal against China

News Article

Photo: Srdjan StevanovicCarlos Alcarez Garfia (ESP) & Daniel Rincon Yague (ESP)

Spain knocked out top seeds USA in a thrilling doubles match in the boys’ event at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals in Prostejov on Thursday.

With the singles locked at 1-1 after victories for Alexander Bernard and Carlos Alcarez Garfia, it all came down to the doubles and the crucial rubber didn’t disappoint.

The Spanish pairing of Alcarez Garfia and Daniel Rincon Yague got off to a flying start, taking the first set 6-0 from the established American duo of Martin Damm and Toby Kodat, who have been unbeaten in doubles all week. The No. 3 seeds continued to dictate the points in the second set but the Americans dug deep, saving four match points and forcing a tiebreak which they won with some aggressive play.

Alcarez Garfia and Rincon Yague bounced back for the match tiebreak, withstanding another fight back from their opponents who came back from 5-8 down to trail 8-9 before eventually getting the win when the Americans sent a ball long.

“Playing the No. 1 seeds is always very hard and this victory will give us a big boost for the rest of the competition,” said Rincon Yague. “They have some really good players so we were really pleased we could match up to them, we gave it everything.”

“After they lost the second set I was doubtful that they could win the match but they have such positive energy,” said Spanish captain Nicolas Perez Duran. “They were playing really well and then it just comes down to the small details. Tomorrow is another day though and we will need to fight again.”

Spain will now face No. 2 seeds China in the semifinals after they also came through a deciding doubles rubber to claim victory over Russia. Wang Xiao Fei, who has been involved in all of China’s victories this week, was once again called upon for singles and doubles duty and duly prevailed, this time with 13-year-old Zheng Boren, to ensure last year’s finalists a place in the final four. 

The other boys’ semifinal will be between No. 7 seeds Japan, who overcame Italy 2-1, and the unseeded Switzerland, who claimed yet another scalp when they defeated No. 8 seeds Brazil 2-0 on Centre Court.

Japan saw off a spirited challenge from Luca Nardi and Giorgio Tabacco, who refused to give up even after they lost four games in a row in the second set. Kokoro Isomura and Shintaro Mochizuki were broken as they served for the match but managed to weather the Italian storm, prevailing a short time later 75 75.

“It was a rollercoaster match,” said the Japanese captain Hayato Sakurai. “In the second set I was telling the boys ‘this is international tennis, everyone wants to win and hates to lose so don’t give up, be patient and if an opportunity comes you have to take it.’ The most important thing in doubles is to work together and they did." 

Top seeds Ukraine remain on course to successfully defend their girls’ title after defeating No. 8 seeds Peru 2-0 in the last eight. 

The South Americans started strongly with Dana Guzman taking the first set 7-5 before Lyubov Kostenko found her range and battled back to win the next two sets 64 61. Dasha Lopatetskaya, the highest-ranked ITF player in the girls’ competition, sealed the win with a 63 60 victory over Camila Soares.

“I was a bit tired today after playing singles and doubles yesterday and I wasn’t concentrating enough in the first set,” explained Kostenko. “I was also a bit nervous but I tried to stay calm and focus and the second set was better and the third set was really good so I’m happy.”

Ukraine’s semifinal opponent will be Czech Republic, who found themselves in the next stage of the competition after singles victories from Linda Fruhvirtova and Darja Vidmanova gave them a 2-0 win over China. China claimed some consolation by winning the doubles rubber to leave the final score at 2-1.

USA looked in fine form as they took out No. 4 seeds Australia. Gabriella Price returned to winning ways with a 64 26 60 win over Charlotte Kempenaers-Pocz while Cori Gauff cruised past Annerly Poulos for the loss of just two games to set up a mouth-watering semifinal clash against Russia.

No. 3 seeds Russia, who have been in imperious form all week and have yet to lose a rubber, advanced to the last four following a 2-0 triumph over Korea.

Full results from the quarterfinals and the positional play-offs can be found here:
Girls' results
Boys' results