Sunday, July 14, 2019

Mochizuki Earns Historic Win in Boys Wimbledon Final; Broadus and Forbes Claim Girls Doubles Title; Top-Seeded Czech Boys Capture Doubles Crown

©Colette Lewis 2019--

Sixteen-year-old Shintaro Mochizuki describes himself as shy, yet he brought his best tennis to the most important match of his life Sunday on Wimbledon's legendary Court 1, becoming the first Japanese boy to win a junior slam singles title with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-2 victory over unseeded Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain.

Mochizuki, seeded eighth, was unsure what to expect when he stepped out on the famous court, with thousands of fans applauding the finalists entrance on a cool and cloudy afternoon at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

"I'm shy, so I was like, why do I have to do that?," said Mochizuki, who trains at the IMG Academy in Bradenton Florida. "So many people were there. Yeah, I was a little bit nervous. But it was fun, yeah."

Although he was up a break at 2-1 and 3-2, Mochizuki didn't assert himself until he broke Gimeno Valero at 3-3 and held for a 5-3 lead. With his dangerous backhand beginning to find its range, the speedy Mochizuki forced Gimeno Valero into errors and broke him for the fourth time to close out the 25-minute first set.

After a quick hold to open the second set, Mochizuki won the next three points on Gimeno Valero's serve, but the 18-year-old from Alicante saved those three break points and a fourth to hold for 1-1.
The next game proved pivotal, with Mochizuki recovering from 15-40 down and saving a third break point in the five-deuce game to hold, with Gimeno Valero just missing a backhand passing shot, which Hawkeye confirmed was out.

"I wanted to hold my service game a lot," said Mochizuki, who had saved a match point in his 6-1, 0-6, 10-8 semifinal win over No. 4 seed Martin Damm of the United States. "It was good. I played really tough; he had some break points, but I just tried my best to hold my service game. Yes, it was really important game for me."

Gimeno Valero agreed that he missed an opportunity to turn the match around in that game.

"In second set I have chance with three break points after winning my serve, having break points in the next game," said Gimeno Valero, who was playing in his first grass court tournament this week. "He play better these important points and after, he breaks me."

After getting that break for 3-1 Mochizuki held, and Gimeno Valero had another opportunity, which turned out to be his last, with Mochizuki serving at 4-2. A good return at 30-all gave the Spaniard a break point, but Mochizuki, looking supremely confident, hammered a forehand winner to save it and after two deuces, crushed a backhand to hold.

Gimeno Valero went down 0-40 with Mochizuki hitting two forehands and an overhead for winners, but Gimeno Valero saved all three to get to deuce, but a forehand error off a good return gave Mochizuki his fourth match point and he converted, hitting a patented down the line backhand to record his historic win.

Mochizuki, who had 20 winners and only eight unforced errors in the second set, was willing to approach the net when he got the opportunity, a style he has always favored.

"My coach Natsuo (Yamanaka), he taught me," said Mochizuki, who is not only the first Japanese boy to win a junior slam singles title, but will also the first to be No. 1 when Monday's rankings are released, according to the ITF. "I like coming to the net and my coach taught me I'm good at that. I just practiced a lot and improved with all matches. Yeah, I like coming into the net a lot."

And despite his description of himself as shy, he displayed more than a little showmanship when he began to sense the finish line, including a jumping smash.

"It was a big chance to do that, so I just did it for fun," Mochizuki said. "It was an easy ball. I just wanted to make people like, having fun watching me."
The girls doubles final was the only junior championship match to go the distance this year, with unseeded Americans Abigail Forbes and Savannah Broadus capturing the title with a 7-5, 5-7, 6-2 win over the unseeded team of Kamilla Bartone of Latvia and Oksana Selekhmeteva of Russia.

Broadus and Forbes had lost to Bartone and Selkhmeteva twice already this year, in the second round at the French and the second round last week in Roehampton. But the pair learned valuable lessons from those two losses.

"We learned specific plays that we can run," said Broadus,  a 16-year-old from Carrollton Texas. "Going to Kamilla's forehand, because it's her weaker side and Oksana has really good hands, so keeping it away from her."

"Personally for me, we need to keep our first serve percentage up, setting up Savannah for poaches at the net, moving forward," said Forbes, an 18-year-old from Raleigh North Carolina. "I think it was crucial for us to hold serve today, and we did a really good job with that."

Broadus and Forbes got the only break of the first set, with Selekhmeteva serving at 5-6, but the Latvian and Russian broke Broadus at 5-all and Selekhmeteva evened the match by holding serve.

Broadus and Forbes took an early lead 3-0 lead in the third set and never had a break point against them, as they kept their lead and broke Selekhmeteva for the title.

Broadus and Forbes had an idea that they had a chance at the title after their first match.

"We played really well in our first match," said Broadus, "and we thought to ourselves, we can really do this."

"We had confidence in each of our games, but I think why we did so well is that we didn't get ahead of ourselves," UCLA rising freshman Forbes added. "We played like we were coming up from behind on every point and I think we were always fighting and fighting and we never gave up."

Forbes and Broadus are not playing together at the upcoming USTA National 18s Championships in San Diego, but they are expected to compete as a team at the College Park Grade 1 and the US Open Junior Championships.

But first, they have an even more important date, to Sunday night's Champions dinner.

"We are really looking forward to getting all dressed up," Broadus said. "A lot of people have proms they get all dressed up for, but I'm home schooled, so I've never gotten dressed up like this before; that's just exciting."

"I've done prom twice now," Forbes said. "She's going to help me pick out my dress because I don't what I'm doing," Broadus said. "They take us to a place, they have dresses upon dresses, people who do our hair and makeup. They have shoes and everything for us."

"That's what they explained, so we're just going to go there and pick it out," Forbes said.

Although selecting the right dress might take some time, both Broadus and Forbes were quick to come up with names of the players they most wanted to see.

"Definitely Fed and Serena," Broadus said. "Fed, and Serena, those are my two," Forbes said."
All of the Wimbledon junior champions are first-time slam winners, with the exception of Jonas Forejtek of the Czech Republic, who added a Wimbledon championship to the doubles title he won with a different partner in Australia.

Forejtek took the title in Melbourne with another Czech, Dalibor Svrcina, but after a first round loss at the French Open last month, the long-time partners went their separate ways, and Forejtek turned to Jiri Lehecka, also from the Czech Republic. Although they lost in the second round at Roehampton, they quickly found their form on the grass, with the top seeds taking the boys title with a 7-5, 6-4 win over No. 7 seeds Govind Nanda of the United States and Liam Draxl of Canada.

"I was playing more men's tournaments and I didn't play juniors, didn't play doubles much," Forejtek said. "When Dalibor and I lost in first round there, we didn't play well, so we decided we should switch partners. I switched to him, and it was pretty good change, I think."

With Forejtek seeded No. 2 in singles and losing in the first round, and Lehecka seeded No. 5 and losing in the second round, the Czech pair could see their doubles as a chance for redemption.

"We didn't do well in singles, we were not happy with our singles, so we were still like, let's go for the doubles," Forejtek said. "We were pumped," Lehecka agreed.

In the opening set of the final, the Czech team got an early break, but Forejtek was broken serving at 4-3. Although they missed their share of volleys, the Czech team continued their commitment to aggressive net play, and they capitalized when they broke Draxl at 5-all. Forejtek needed to save a break point serving at 6-5, but they converted their second set point, with Lehecka securing it with a forehand volley winner.

"We got broken at 5-all, but we still had chances at 5-6," said Nanda, who played a semester of college tennis at UCLA this year. "We missed a lot of opportunities."

"They were the first team that was serving that big and hitting that big off the ground," said Draxl, a rising freshman at Kentucky. "Me and Govind hit a bunch of good returns, but they hit it almost as hard right back and deep. It was tough to be on the offense side of the point."

Lehecka and Forejtek, who got the only break of the second set at 4-all, with Lehecka serving out the title, said the surface was definitely a factor in their playing style.

"The grass is different in so many ways," the 17-year-old Lehecka said. "We tried to play what is best to play on grass and I think we did our best."

"We were focusing on our serves, which I think is a lot important on grass," said the 18-year-old Forejtek. "We didn't lose many serves in the tournament and when we got chances on break, we took them."

Both said it may be Sunday evening before they fully grasp that they are Wimbledon champions, and after that they will consider their schedule for the last few months of their junior careers. They said they will probably team up again at the US Open Junior Championships.

Draxl and Nanda are planning to play the US Open Junior Championships in singles, but are not certain if they will play doubles together.

Sunday's junior championship final results:

Boys singles:
Shintaro Mochizuki(JPN)[8] d. Carlos Gimeno Valero(ESP) 6-3, 6-2.

Girls doubles:
Savannah Broadus and Abigail Forbes(USA) d. Kamilla Bartone(LAT) and Oksana Selekhmeteva(RUS) 7-5, 5-7, 6-2

Boys doubles:
Jonas Forejtek and Jiri Lehecka(CZE)[1] d. Govind Nanda(USA) and Liam Draxl(CAN)[7] 7-5, 6-4.