Russia’s girls and Korea, Republic’s boys claimed the ITF World Junior Tennis titles on an exciting day of action on Saturday.
Russia took on USA in the girls’ final, in a match which saw two captains with 100% records in the competition across multiple years go head-to-head. Russia came into this year’s Finals as the reigning champions, and confidence in the camp was high with captain Irina Doronina and No. 1 player Anastasia Potapova part of the team that also won last year.
However, it could be argued that Russian No. 3 Vlada Koval has been the most important part of this team. Playing as the No. 2 player, Koval came into the final having won every one of her singles rubbers, often playing against the No. 2 player from the other teams. Once again, she was chosen to lead Russia out, this time against American No. 2 Caty McNally.
he second rubber saw both No. 1 players go head-to-head as Potapova took on Tyra Black. Black started the stronger and stormed through the opening set, winning it 63. The second set went back-and-forth, with both players holding a break advantage. It was the Russian who eventually won it 64, forcing a decider.
The third set saw strong serving from both players, but Black faltered in the tenth game and Potapova saw her chance. Leading 5-4, she was ruthless with her returns and earned 3 match points. Black saved the first but could not save a second and Potapova dropped her racket and punched the air as, for the second year running, she secured the title for Russia.
Irina Doronina, who has won every tie she has been in charge of at the ITF World Junior Tennis Finals, said “We are happy today. Last year, we were champions, today we repeat our performance. My team are very strong players. Thank you to team USA, today was a very interesting match. Thank you Vlada, thank you Anastasia, today was a very difficult match.”
USA won the dead doubles rubber, with McNally and Amanda Anisimova defeated Koval and Taisya Pachkaleva 75 62.
The boys’ title saw 2011 champion Korea, Republic take on 3-time champion Spain.
The first rubber saw Carlos Gimeno Valero take on Minjong Park. Gimeno Valero came into the final unbeaten in his singles rubbers, while Park had only lost once this week, and it was the Spaniard who proved to be the stronger, winning 64 63 to give Spain the lead in the final.
Korean No. 1 Seonyong Han came into the Finals on a 23-match winning streak and his excellent form has continued through his time in Prostejov, winning all four of his singles match before the final, including a fifth win in as many week’s over Argentina’s Thiago Tirante.
You could be forgiven for thinking Han might suffer some burnout at the end of the week, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Han won his 29th consecutive match in impressive style, defeating Nicolas Alvarez Varona 62 63 to force the deciding doubles rubber.
The doubles saw Han and Park take on Alvarez Varona and Pedro Vives Marcos. Spain broke early in the opening set to take a 3-0 lead, but the Korean pair fought back to win it 64. The momentum was now firmly with the Koreans and there was no stopping them as they eased to a 64 63 victory to book their place in history.
In the girls’ competition, Hungary secured a 13th-place finish by defeating Colombia 2-1.
Egypt finished bottom of both the boys’ and girls’ competitions after the boys suffered a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Venezuela, while France finished 13th after defeating Poland.
Egypt’s last-place finish means that Africa will lose a place in next year’s Finals, the spot moving to Europe which increases from five nations to six.
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