Thanks to second-place finishes across the board in the North/Central America and Caribbean qualifying tournament over the past few days in Boca Raton, Florida, Canada has earned a spot in the finals of the U14 World Junior Tennis and U16 Junior Davis and Fed Cup.
The top two finishers earned spots in the finals, and Canada finished second to the United States in all four round-robin tourneys – the boys’ and girls’ World Junior Tennis events and the boys’ and girls’ U16 Junior Davis and Fed Cup draws.
In the boys’ WJT draw, both Canada and the U.S. went 3-0 against Mexico and Guatemala. In the finale against each other, the U.S. won 2-1 – first, American Brandon Nakashima won 6-1, 6-3 against Alex-Antoine Marquis before Canadian Luka Vukovic captured a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Adam Neff. But the U.S. won the deciding doubles 6-1, 6-1 with Govind Nanda and Neff winning over Marquis and Vukovic. The third member of team Canada was Nick Lagaev.
On the girls’ side, Canada and the U.S. faced each other to open round-robin play, with the Americans sweeping 3-0. The Canadian team defeated Guatemala and Mexico 3-0 each though to sew up second place. On the last day of play, Viktoriya Tabunshchyk won 6-2, 6-1 over Mexican Abril Marquina, Leyla Fernandez clinched a 6-2, 6-1 triumph over Aida Garcia Mendez, and the doubles team of Ariana Arseneault/Fernandez also won 6-2, 6-1 over Mendez and Marquina.
After both Canada and the U.S. easily swept their two earlier opponents in Junior Fed Cup play, the nations met for the right to finish first place. The U.S. ultimately won 3-0, with American Michaela Gordon holding on against Charlotte Robillard-Millette 6-4, 5-7, 7-5, Catherine Bellis winning 6-3, 6-2 over Katherine Sebov, and Bellis teaming with Kayla Day to oust Sebov and Vanessa Wong 6-3, 6-4.
A similar situation took place in Junior Davis Cup, with Canada and the U.S. dominating their other challengers. However, their tie for first place went down to a deciding doubles rubber. First, Canadian Benjamin Sigouin defeated Gianni Ross 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-2 before the Americans evened it up as Sam Riffice bested Denis Shapovalov 6-0, 6-2. In the doubles, Vasil Kirkov and Riffice gave their country the victory with a 6-3, 6-0 triumph over Shapovalov and Sigouin. Also on team Canada was Jack Mingjie Lin.
The World Junior Tennis finals will take place in Prostejov, Czech Republic from August 3-8, while the Junior Davis Cup and Fed Cup finals go September 29 – October 4 in Madrid. Both events are considered the world team championships for their age groups. Last year, the Canadian U14 team finished in second place, while both the Junior Davis Cup (2010) and Junior Fed Cup (2011) teams are recent silver medal winners.