With just a few days remaining in the month of April, sixteen-year-old Taha Baadi is hoping his two months of incredible on-court results continue to flourish well into the spring. Baadi begins his latest challenge, along with compatriots Luka Vukovic and Liam Draxl, as the U16 squad represents Canada in the Junior Davis Cup North/Central America Final Qualifiers in Campeche, Mexico from April 27-29.
Over the course of the past two months, Baadi captured not one, but two national titles, at the Rogers Indoor Junior National Championships for the U16 and U18 age categories. But Baadi wasn’t the only team member who produced winning results at the Junior Nationals earlier in April. Ontario’s Liam Draxl finished third in both the U16 and U18 championships, while Luka Vukovic was the U16 finalist.
On Thursday in Mexico, the skilled team opened up their qualifying campaign for the Junior Davis Cup finals. The Canadians were pitted against Guatemala in the first day of matches and emerged with a 3-0 victory.
Vukovic defeated Guatemala’s Alejandro Solares 6-1, 6-0 in the first singles rubber before Baadi secured the win with a 6-4, 6-1 victory over Sebastian Dominguez. Draxl and Vukovic combined for the doubles rubber and completed the shutout with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Solares and Dominguez. The team takes on Mexico on Friday.
Also in action, the Junior Fed Cup team met Mexico in the first rubber of the weekend. Layne Sleeth, Alexandra Vagramov, and Viktoriya Tabunshcyk combined to see Canada win 3-0 over the local favourites.
Sleeth appears to be riding the momentum of her recent title win at the Grade 2 ITF junior event in Cap d’Ail, France in mid-April. With the win, the Markham, Ont. native cracked the Top 100 of the ITF junior rankings for the first time in her career. But on Thursday, Sleeth notched a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Mexico’s Aida Garcia Mendez. Her win followed teammate Vagramov’s 6-1, 5-7, 6-3 victory over Romary Cardenas in the opening rubber. Sleeth and Tabunshcyk then cruised to a 6-1, 6-0 victory versus Romary Cardenas and Daira Cardenas to complete Thursday’s play.
Next up for the U16 Canadians is Guatemala on Friday.
Canada’s U14 boys and girls teams joined four other North American and Central American nations in Campeche for their chance to book a spot in the Finals later this year.
On Thursday, the Canadian girls team produced a 3-0 win over Mexico. Rachel Kimiko Krzyzak captured the first rubber over Ana Paula Chavez with a 7-5, 6-3 win. Next, Melodie Collard defeated Midori Castillo 7-5, 6-4. Canada completed the sweep with Leena Bennetto and Kimiko Krzyzak’s 5-7, 7-6(4), 10-5 come-from-behind-win over Mexico’s Castillo and Julia Garcia. Canada faces Puerto Rico on Friday.
The U14 boys fell in their opening day action versus Mexico. Marko Stakusic suffered a narrow defeat at the hands of Eduardo Mustre, falling 6-2, 7-6(6) in just under two hours. Howver, Maxime St. Hilare managed to even the score at 1-1 with his 7-6(5), 0-6, 6-4 victory over Emiliano Aguilera. In the deciding doubles rubber, Stakusic and Berk Tunali were unable to solve the Mexican duo of Aguilera and Mustre, losing 6-3, 6-1. The u14 boys take on USA on Friday.
For full scores and the complete draws, please visit the official tournament site and check back here for more.