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).