28 Sep 2014

USA Junior Fed Cup team can sing “We are the Champions”

Match Report

By Sandra Harwitt

Photo: Susan MullaneUSA team celebrates Junior Fed Cup

SAN LUIS POTOSÍ, MÉXICO: “We just won Fed Cup! We just won Fed Cup!” bellowed the top-seeded USA’s Tornado Alicia Black, CiCi Bellis and Sofia Kenin as they jumped around the court, arm-in-arm, with an American flag draped over their shoulders. Indeed the trio had taken an insurmountable 2-0 lead over Slovakia and would go on to take a 3-0 victory after a hard fought doubles victory.

“It’s not going to sink it for a while, but then it’s going to be, “We just won Fed Cup,” said Bellis, flashing a huge smile. “That’s how it’s going to be and it’s going to be amazing.”

Joining the USA girls in the winner’s circle was the USA Davis Cup squad — William Blumberg, Michael Mmoh and Gianni Ross — who picked up the Junior Davis Cup victory for the United States.

This is the fifth time in history that one nation has captured the Junior Davis Cup and Junior Fed Cup by BNP Paribas titles in the same year. This is the second time it’s happened for the USA, who also performed that feat in 2008. Australia did it in 1987 and 2007, and West Germany did it in 1989.

There’s no denying that for a team to be successful all those taking part need to pull their own weight.

And that’s exactly how it’s been all week long for the winning USA Fed Cup team, who appear to have become best friends through their team bonding. The trio secured the Junior Fed Cup title for the third time for their county.

That said, it’s hard to ignore the fact that it’s been Tornado Alicia Black, the USA’s second singles player, whose been doing much of the heavy lifting for the win. Black’s played singles evey day and doubles four times without having surrendered a set.

“I was playing singles first and helped carry the team by going up 1-0,” Black said. “That did put a lot of pressure on CiCi playing the second match to try to win for us.”

Black, who won the opening match 76 (6) 60 against Tereza Mihalikova, is used to bearing responsibility on her shoulders even when it comes to home life.

“I miss the cooking,” said Black, about when she’s on the road. “Mostly I do the cooking now and I’ll cook for my little sister. I cook chicken and pasta, but I like baking more. I’ve always had a lot of responsibilities and chores to do. I’ve had to do my own laundry and clean my room, sometimes I have to clean my sister’s room because she can get pretty lazy sometimes.”

The first set on Sunday was the first test Black faced this tournament, even falling behind when Mihalikova broke her serve in the ninth game. Black immediately broke back in the next game and the set went into a tiebreaker.

Mihalikova had the first set point in the tiebreaker with a 6-5 lead, but Black’s power serve forced a return long. At 7-6 for Black, Mihalikova sailed a forehand long to hand the set over to Black.

From there Black was in charge, taking the second set at love.

For the second straight tie USA’s Bellis was forced into a third set before securing the match.

On Sunday, Bellis blanked Viktoria Kuzmova in the first set, but couldn’t keep the momentum going. After losing the second set, Bellis returned to form to eventually prevail 60 26 63.

“I think having these guys behind me and supporting me helped me through those matches,” Bellis said. “And just playing for the U.S. helped me and I think that’s what really helped me come through.”

Despite the fact that they were already guaranteed to be the 2014 Fed Cup champions, Bellis and Kenin fought to deliver the perfect 3-0 final win in taking a 36 64 61 doubles victory over Tamara Kupkova and Mihalikova.

The USA finished the Junior Fed Cup winning gold and the first place position with Slovakia taking silver and second place. The bronze medal and third position went to No. 2 seeds Hungary, who posted a 2-1 win over No. 4 seeds Russia, who finished in fourth place.

In the deciding matches for position 13 through 16, Peru took a 3-0 win over Ecuador to finish at No. 13 which puts Ecuador at No. 14. Slovenia posted a 2-1 win over Egypt to come in at No. 15 with Egypt taking No. 16.

Slovenia’s victory on Sunday was important for the 2015 Junior Fed Cup in that they needed to win to guarantee that Europe would have 6 country participants in next year’s tournament. Australasia will have four nations, South America will have three nations, North America, Central America and the Caribbean will have two nations, and Africa will have one nation. 

For full results and draws click here