Buenos Aires | Home celebrations but Juvan wins gold for Slovenia
There was Argentine joy on the final day of play at the Youth Olympic Tennis Event when Sebastian Baez & Facundo Diaz Acosta defeated Adrian Andreev & Rinky Hijikata to take the Boys Doubles gold medal for the host nation.
That’s just really special,I saw the players that played the last Youth Olympics and they were really good. There was [Daria] Kasatkina and [Jelena] Ostapenko. It’s just so amazing to have both of them and to be as close to the third [gold] as I was, it’s just so amazing. I’m just happy for it and currently I’m speechless. Kaja Juvan
The stands at the Buenos Aires Lawn Tennis Club were filled with light blue and white flags and shirts representing the national colours for the second final of Sunday afternoon, inspiring the Argentine pair to takle every opportunity to attack and close out the points.
In the end, they won the tight final, 6-4 6-4, against Bulgaria’s Andreev and Australia’s Hijikata.
Baez, current No 2 in the world junior ranking, thanked the public for its massive support.
“Everyone wanted the same thing as we did, and that was beautiful,” Baez said. “It’s much more enjoyable when one is playing at home.”
The home fans were in full voice on the packed centre court, which seats 5,000, and they erupted in delight when the Argentine pair clinched the match.
“This is something immense,” added Baez. “Not only for us but also for everyone that has come to support us, our family, friends, our team.”
“The truth is that it’s incredible,” said Diaz Acosta, who took the silver medal in the Boys Singles on Saturday and was moved during Sunday’s medal ceremony.
“When I heard the Argentine anthem and saw the flag rise, I got goosebumps,” he said.
“It was something indescribable, and especially with everyone singing it.”
“It was a tremendous week that I will never forget,” Baez concluded.
It might not have been the result Hijikata was looking for, but it was certainly the stage on which he wants to perform.
“There was obviously a lot of people there and they were supporting the Argentineans and they played really well today,” said Hijikata. “The crowd was exceptional, they really got behind their players.
“It was a great atmosphere to be a part of, they’re the kind of matches that I, personally, look forward to. I think everyone does.
“I want to play more matches like that.”
Andreev added: “I’ll look at it as a positive week I think. I enjoyed my time here and even today was really fun even though we lost. It is what it is.”
Earlier in the day, Slovenia’s Kaja Juvan capped off her memorable week in Buenos Aires with a second gold medal of the Games after defeating France’s Clara Burel, 7-5 6-4, in the Girls’ Singles final on Sunday.
Juvan had won the women’s doubles final alongside Poland’s Iga Swiatek in an epic three-set win against Japan duo Yuki Naito & Naho Sato on Saturday in a final that went the distance, with Juvan & Swiatek winning 10-4 in the match tiebreak to land the gold.
In so doing the 17-year-old became the first tennis player to win two golds in one Youth Olympics.
“That’s just really special,” said Juvan. “I saw the players that played the last Youth Olympics and they were really good. There was [Daria] Kasatkina and [Jelena] Ostapenko.
“It’s just so amazing to have both of them and to be as close to the third [gold] as I was, it’s just so amazing. I’m just happy for it and currently I’m speechless.”
Juvan, who had received treatment to her right leg during the Girl’s Doubles final on Saturday, started slowly as Burel raced out to a 4-1 lead, dictating play and making the Slovenian move as much as possible.
The 4th seed was not about to roll over without a fight, and she battled back to level at 4-4, before taking a tumble while leading 5-4 in the first set.
She received more physio treatment to her left ankle and managed to take control of the match to emerge victorious in straight sets.
When asked what it was like to be standing on top of the podium, Juvan said: “It was just so awesome.
“To be Slovenian, to be from such a small country, there are just 25 other athletes here and everyone’s fighting for it and to be our first and second gold it’s just unbelievable.
“I’m so happy that I was able to do this for my country, for my team, for my fans everywhere and the anthem and the flag was just a thank you to them for always being there for me.”
In the last action of the day, Naito made amends for missing out on the gold medal in the Girls Doubles, playing alongside Naho Sato, by earning top spot on the podium in the Mixed Doubles.
Alongside compatriot Naoki Tajima, the duo ran out 6-2 6-3 winners over Colombia’s Camila Osorio Serrano & Nicolas Mejia to bring the tennis action in Buenos Aires to a close.
“I’m feeling so good,” said Naito. “We’ve never played mixed doubles before so we’re happy.
“It has been a nice week. I beat No 1 in singles in this tournament. I am so proud of myself. When I go back I want to train more. I am ready to play any tournaments to win!”
Tajima, who compared his win in the Mixed Doubles here to his win in the Boys Doubles at Roland Garros thought that his gold medal was actually heavier than the plate he received for winning in Paris last June.
“I’m going to karaoke,” Naito said about celebrating.
The bronze medal in the mixed went the way of the French team of Clara Burel and Hugo Gaston, who defeated the Swiss pairing of Lulu Sun and Damien Wenger 6-4 5-7 [10-4].
It was a third medal for Gaston, who became the first player to win three medals in one Youth Olympic Games, and the second medal of the day for Burel after she received a silver in the Girls’ Singles.