The U.S. Junior Fed Cup team won a second consecutive international title last weekend, in the final edging the Ukraine in the deciding doubles where they saved a match point.
In the final the Ukraine’s Lyubov Kostenko put her country up 1-0 with a 6-4, 6-1 win over 16-year-old Alexa Noel (Summit, N.J.). Florida’s 14-year-old CoCo Gauff (Delray Beach) then knotted the match at one-all after defeating Dasha Lopatetskaya 6-1, 4-6, 6-0.
The team of Gauff/Noel then took to the court in the deciding doubles, fighting off a match point in a 5-7, 6-4, 11-9 win over Lopatetskaya/Kostenko. Also on the U.S. squad was 15-year-old Connie Ma (Dublin, Calif.), and the team was coached by the USTA’s Erik Kortland.
“It feels great that we’ve defended it,” Gauff told the ITF afterwards. “We were inches away from losing the title. My serve was just in [on championship point]. I’m just relieved I didn’t have to serve a second serve then…We had to trust our games. In the first set we were just a little too passive and in the match tiebreaker we played super aggressive, which proved to be the difference in the match.
“I’m really proud of my team. We’ve overcome a lot this week. Me, Alexa and Connie hadn’t really spoken before this trip, so I think we make such a great team, constantly supporting each other no matter what the score…We might not have always played well, but I think we’re champions because we fought harder.”
Last year the U.S. beat Japan 2-0 in the final behind Americans Whitney Osuigwe of Florida and Caty McNally.
It was the fifth title for the U.S. Junior Fed Cup team (2018-17, 2014, 2012, 2008) and the fifth consecutive appearance in the final.
The U.S. Junior Davis Cup team defeated Hungary on Sunday to finish ninth. USTA National Coach Eric Nunez captained the boys team.
In 2019 the U.S. teams will receive automatic qualifying bids as the host nation, with the finals to be held at the USTA National Campus in Orlando.
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