Photo: Srdjan StevanovicLilian Marmousez and Harold Mayot (FRA)
Boys’ second seeds France came into Tuesday at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals seeking to atone for their opening day loss to Uruguay by beating sixth seeds the USA - winners over Japan on Monday - in Group D. First up for the French was Lilian Marmousez, taking on Zane Khan. The pair struggled for consistency throughout the first set, neither able to hold their serves from the fourth till ninth games, when Khan eventually did to take a 5-4 lead. Marmousez was able to repeat the feat in the very next game, but disappointingly for the French No. 2 a couple of weak serves pumped into the net on set point handed his opponent the set 75.
Inconsistency was again a trademark of the second set, with both players guilty of under hitting drop shots and driving groundstrokes long, and despite Khan squandering a 4-1 lead and three match points, the American was eventually able to close out the set 64 to put his team one up in the tie.
Up next for France was spearhead Harold Mayot. The French spearhead, who injured his back during European qualifying and was only returning to competitive action at the finals, was made to work hard for his 63 57 75 win over Stefan Leustian; the victory going some way to alleviating the disappointment of losing his opening singles rubber on Monday.
“I’m very happy to win my first match,” said Mayot afterwards. “I’m very happy for France, too, and the team.”
Unfortunately for Mayot and his team, however, the joy generated was short-lived. Teaming up with Marmousez, Mayot lost the first set of his doubles rubber against Leustian and Khan 57, before squaring up the match with a 64 win in the second, setting up a match tiebreak. After Marmousez had to fail to convert a match point by sending a second serve return into the net, Mayot skied his own service return out of the TK Prostejov tennis club arena and then hit a forehand wide to hand the Americans the set 11-9 and with it the tie.
In Group D’s other match-up, Uruguay backed up their impressive performance over France with another 2-1 win, this time against Japan, to go top of the group.
Beyond France’s encounter with the USA, the only other tie between seeded teams took place on the girls’ side of the draw – the No. 3 seeds the Czech Republic taking on sixth seeded Japan.
The opening rubber witnessed Czech No. 2 Kristyna Lavickova overcome a first set deficit to beat Kajuru Oby Ange, before Japan player Harimi Sato repeated the feat with her own come from behind victory, over Denisa Hindova.
It was a display of two very contrasting styles, Sato smoothly stroking the ball back over the net while Hindova frequently hit the ball like it had done something to offend her. What the players shared, especially in the third set, was an unwillingness to come to the net. In the end, Sato’s finesse and fewer errors won out over the Czech’s power in their battle of the baseline, the Japanese winning the rubber 57 64 76(1) in two hours and ten minutes.
“It was a very tough match,” said Sato at the end of the match. “[I had to] focus on every point, so it was good [to win].” Team captain Yone Kamio added while her player gone behind on a number of occasions during the match, notably after the first set and early in the third, Sato’s self-belief held strong.
Both players were back on court soon after in the doubles, but this time it Hindova who earned the right to celebrate after she and partner Lavickova dispatched Sato and Oby Ange 61 63 to win the tie. The Czech Republic now join Ecuador at the top of Group B, after the South Americans recorded their own second victory of the finals, beating South Africa 2-1.
Another girls’ team in the groove on Day 2 were Canada, who beat Brazil 2-0. Unfortunately for the Brazilians, however, their team No. 1 Maria Fernanda Menezes was forced to concede her match with Ariana Arseneault with a back injury.
Elsewhere, boys top seeds Italy and third seeds China won against Great Britain and Ecuador respectively, while girls No.1 seeds Ukraine beat Slovenia 3-0 and second seeds the USA overcame Latvia by the same scoreline.
Click here for full results and draws.