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Saturday, July 9, 2016

Anastasia Potapova Claims Wimbledon Girls Title in Unusual Finish; Americans Arconada, Liu and McNally Reach Girls Doubles Final

©Colette Lewis 2016--

Not many junior matches end, or don't end, in the case of the Wimbledon girls singles final today, thanks to Hawkeye.  Only on a select few courts at the junior slams is the technology even available, and as unfamiliar with it as most juniors are, it rarely has an impact on a match.

But at 6-4, 5-3, with Anastasia Potapova of Russia serving for the match against Dayana Yastremska of Ukraine, she was twice denied, with Yastremska successfully challenging two first serves, each initially called good, on match point.

Potapova, seeded fourth, had already failed to convert on her first three match points with two unforced errors and a Yastremska forehand on the baseline. On attempt No. 4, Potapova hit a first serve, and Yastremska's return sailed long, but after Potapova had celebrated amidst the large Court 1 crowd's ovation, Yastremska challenged the call, and Hawkeye showed the serve was several inches out.

"I can't describe it really," the 15-year-old from Moscow said when asked about the challenge which, at that moment, negated her 6-4, 6-3 victory. "Well, at first time I was starting, like, Oh, my God, I won it. When she says, can I have a challenge please, I'm just like, please, cannot be.  Please. No, it was a fault. Well, I lost that point."

Potapova did manage to get her second serve in, but hit a backhand long. On the next point, Yastremska missed a forehand, giving Potapova another match point, her fifth.  Again she hit a first serve that produced an error and no call from the line judge or chair umpire. She again celebrated, slamming a ball down on the court as if to say you can't take away my moment this time.  But although this serve was closer to being in, Hawkeye again saved Yastremska, and, in a deja vu of the first scene, Potapova made her second serve but lost the point, missing a backhand.

"And then, like, same situation," Potapova said. "I did the first serve.  She had mistake.  Like, can I have a challenge please? I'm just like, please, this can't be like second time," Potapova recounted in the media conference, crossing her fingers to indicate what she was feeling on that second review.  

Another match point, with the crowd roaring now as both girls battled themselves and each other, ended with a Potapova double fault.  She then hit a good serve, with Yastremska's return going long, to earn match point No. 7. This time Potapova's first serve was good, with no challenge forthcoming, and when Yastremska netted a forehand, the crowd's enthusiastic applause swelled as the two girls embraced at the net.  A lengthy standing ovation ensued, with the fans showing appreciation for both the quality of play and the composure of both players.

No. 7 seed Yastremska said she felt "lucky" to win the challenges, but immediately focused on the point at hand, not on what had just happened. After a quick start, in which she took a 2-0 lead, Yastremska had difficulty holding serve during the rest of the match, but she never looked frustrated or resigned to a loss.

"I'm a positive person, in life and on court," said the 16-year-old from Odessa, who brought one of two small Wimbledon teddy bears she had in her bag all week to the small media conference room. "So it's just usual, trying to be positive, because that's a game. There's big crowds, everyone supports, you get a lot of energy, amazing feelings and you play on Center Court, where top players are playing. So you feel yourself like a top player. So you can't be with a bad attitude. So I'm learning how to be a top player, for the future."

As for the embrace at the net, Yastremska did not find it particularly extraordinary.

"We are pretty good, talking outside of the court," said Yastremska of her relationship with Potapova. "On the court, we're trying to fight with each other, but outside the court, when the game is finished, you don't have to be angry. That's sport. So I try to be nice with every player after my match. And she won Wimbledon. So I'm happy for her. That wasn't my day and she deserved it."

Yastremska will play next week's $50,000 ITF Women's Circuit event in Turkey and hopes to receive an occasional wild card for WTA events the rest of the summer before traveling to New York for the US Open Junior Championships. 

"I am really confident that I can make the finals, and to win it," Yastremska said. "This week has been amazing. The best week of my life."

Potapova, who will rise to No. 1 in the ITF junior rankings after her title today, said she will continue to play junior events, including the US Open, the Orange Bowl and Junior Fed Cup, while also playing ITF Pro Circuit events.  Although her opportunities to play at the highest level are limited by the WTA's age restrictions, Potapova, who has won major international junior titles with regularity over the past four years, relishes the position she's in.

"At my first practice, I was like oh, I like it," Potapova said of her first exposure to the sport at age 5. "But then I liked it more, more, more. Now I love it. I love tennis life. I love everything here, cause I can't imagine my life without tennis really."

Potapova was unable to earn a place in a second final, when she and partner Olesya Pervushina, the top seeds, lost in the doubles semifinals Saturday afternoon to Claire Liu and Usue Arconada, the No. 4 seeds, 7-5, 6-4.  

Liu and Arconada trailed 3-1 in the second set, but won four straight games for a 5-3 lead and earned their place in the final when Liu served out the match.

Caty McNally, playing in her first Wimbledon, also reached the doubles final. The 14-year-old from Ohio is playing with Mariam Bolkvadze of Georgia, and the unseeded pair defeated No. 3 seeds Kaja Juvan of Slovenia and Iga Swiatek of Poland 6-1, 6-3 to advance to Sunday's final.

Denis Shapovalov of Canada will play for two titles on Sunday.  After he takes on Alex De Minaur of Australia in the boys singles championship match at 1 p.m., Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will play for the doubles title.  The top seeds defeated No. 3 seeds Miomir Kecmanovic of Serbia and Casper Ruud of Norway 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-3 in Saturday's semifinal.  They will face No. 2 seeds Kenneth Raisma of Estonia and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who defeated No. 4 seeds Benjamin Sigouin of Canada and Louis Wessels of Germany 7-6(5), 7-6(7).


Thoughts said...

Usually there's some silly takeaways on SI regarding Wimbledon. Here are mine, is tennis really the only remaining sport that allows their major events to be on tape delay (NCAA team championships) and today Wimbledon a second time on NBC. Listening to McEnroes twice in one day, equals painful. John as a special consultant to Roanic while commentating live, reminded me of Patrick commentating while leading the USTA and we all know how that worked out. Those is charge of tennis need to draw the line somewhere on these issues, Tennis should not be in the same class as Ninja Warrior on Fox.

Either allow coaching or put the player's boxes in the nosebleed seats! Roanic received some quality coaching in the fourth, which he followed, being more aggressive Federer did not, nor would he have since it's against the rules. When Connors and McEnroe were on their way out, they used gamemanship tactics to the max, Federer's unwillingness to do so puts him at the top in my book, regardless if someone comes along after Djockovic's threat and wins more slams. Imagine if at 40-0 serving 5-6 Federer said there was lose debris in his racket and switched rackets taking extra time, there's no doubt he doesn't drop in two double faults after a delay like that. There is no reason not to allow coaches to participate, the tennis would simply be better. I read that Tsonga has four coaches and Tsonga has no idea what he's doing, his second serve and volley, only his second in the entire first set was on his first set point in the tiebreak against Murray???

I sit and watch as tennis becomes less significant in the United States, at every level less tennis is being played (USTA, NCAA) and feel helpless. There's little chance we'll ever be competitive again once the Williams sisters are done. The decisions that continue to emphasize less actual tennis (3rd set tiebreaks, 2 all starting sets, no ad scoring, sections reducing draw sizes) as being more entertaining or somehow better for the game of tennis is baffling. There's no reason to be super fit in a sport where footwork is one of the most important ingredients if you're preparing to play LESS.

Where's the leadership and competent decision making, has tennis's leadership been infiltrated by a bunch of golfers?

Lin said...

Thoughts said - Odd to hear my own perspective voiced so well by another. I have long bemoaned the fact that the USTA is removing fitness from the equation by shortening matches. And doubles has become a joke. I remember several Florida State Doubles Championships (which is a doubles-only event, so there's no worry about fatiguing the singles players) where they play two sets that start at 2-all, with a 10-point tiebreak for the third set. Really??? Why not just flip a coin?

Fitness is every bit as much of a weapon, as a sledgehammer forehand, or cannon serve. but you're right. Who will train to be more fit, when matches are constructed to eliminate playing time?

I have heard endless TV commentators state that the single thing that young pros can do to instantly improve their win ratio, is to become more fit. Well... if we don't ask it of our juniors and college players, aren't we reducing the number of players that will be fit enough to rise to the pro levels? And for those who do, they will have a higher hurdle to overcome than their international competitors who do not get coddled in the name of "improving the fan friendliness of the sport". I don't know anyone who has said "if only tennis matches were shorter, I'd fall in love with the sport".

Alex Ho said...

The initial poster has many comments that really do not make sense:
- Not sure why anyone cares if Mac is consultant to Raonic, I dont like John or Patricks commentary I just turn the sound down
- The reason they show Wimbledon on tape delay (2nd time) is because many people do not set dvr or get up early (6am Pacific time) to watch tennis
- No idea what connection to NCAA tennis being taped delayed, not sure if it was ever played on live tv?
- William sisters never even played junior tennisand their fitness seems just fine
- The tennis played in 80's had no ad to quarters in most tournaments and it certainly did not hurt american tennis then

US men currently has 4 teens in the top 170 in the world, 8 US men under 21 are in the top 325.

Of course fitness plays a huge roll in tennis, but tournaments/college matches also need to find a balance in getting the matches completed in a reasonable time. If a player wants to play high level junior tennis and has aspirations for college and run at tour, they need to be fit. Players need to be able to play long matches, but more importantly be fit for match and training recovery, and injury prevention. On the tour players will very rarely play more than one 2 out of 3 set singles match in a day. Do you really want to sit and watch your kid play 2-2 out of 3 set singles matches and than play 2 out 3 set doubles after? I spent a lot of time at tournaments as a kid and young adult, but it was a grind for sure for my parents. Mckenzie Mcdonald, in an interview on this website mentioned that he though no ad made him mentally tougher and take all point more seriously.

I will say 6 game set for doubles point is to short, should at least be 8 game pro set, or 2 sets with super breaker. I don't think it is what is wrong with American tennis, especially since half the division 1 college tennis players are foreign. College matches used to last 5 to 6 hours when singles and doubles were 2 out of 3 sets each, way to long.