Damm, Kodat save match points in Jr. Davis Cup semis
ORLANDO, Fla — One day after saving three match points in a match tiebreaker against Spain, Martin Damm and Toby Kodat did it again against France in the semifinals. The battle-tested pair erased two match points on Saturday, punching Team USA’s final ticket with a 3-6, 6-3, [12-10] win over Giovanni Mpetshi-Perricard and Max Westphal.
Damm (pictured above, left) also came through in a do-or-die singles match against Mpetshi-Perricard, 6-4, 6-4, but the story of the day was once again a heart-wrenching doubles rubber in which both teams saved match points.
“I’m hoping this is the last time,” Kodat (above, right) said of the frantic finish.
Captain Philippe Oudshoorn was proud of the way his team stayed “gritty and persistent” and fought throughout the breaker.
“Especially with these super breakers, it’s longer than you think, and there’s a lot of ups and downs,” he explained. “If you get yourself carried away a little bit on two or three points that you miss, it goes quick.”
From 7-9 down, the Americans saved one match point on the return, then drew level when a Damm first serve dribbled over the net—a live ball under the new ITF rules.
“I don’t think I’ve actually ever hit a serve where it dribbles over for an ace,” said Damm.
“[Westphal] was returning lights out the whole match. He gave us almost zero mistakes off the serve, so I knew I had to hit an unreal serve… I think I hit an unbelievably, ridiculously good serve,” he said with a laugh. “Thank god the ITF made that new rule.”
France saved a match point at 10-9, before Kodat stepped up on the crucial 10-all point. He blistered a cross-court return then whipped a forehand winner into the alley from his shoelaces to set up a second match point. Serving at 11-10, he coolly finished the breaker by setting up Damm for a match-winning volley.
“Right now, it feels incredible,” said Kodat.
“Our goal coming in was to win it,” added Damm. “Now that we have a chance to do it, after everything that happened, I think that tomorrow we’re going to go out there and give it every single thing that we’ve got in ourselves, after having two teams almost beat us.”
In addition to coming back from a set down in the doubles rubber, the Americans had to fight out of a 1-0 hole in the overall match, as Dali Blanch dropped a 6-2, 6-2 decision to Mehdi Sadaoui to start the day at No. 2 singles.
In the final, set for 11 a.m. on Saturday, they will face No. 2-seeded Japan, with live coverage on Tennis Channel. The Japanese are led by former junior world No. 1 and reigning junior Wimbledon champion Shintaro Mochizuki. Currently second in the ITF Junior Rankings, Mochizuki defeated Damm earlier this year in the Wimbledon semis, 10-8 in the third set.
“I’m going to go out there, and hopefully I’ll finally be able to get my revenge,” Damm said with a smile.
Mochizuki is a perfect 9-0 across singles and doubles this week, dropping just two sets—both in singles—along the way.
In addition to Tennis Channel's coverage of Sunday's final, live streaming, scores and full schedules are available on the USTA National Campus Junior Davis and Fed Cup homepage. For more information, visit the ITF website.
Highlights can be viewed on the USTA's Twitter page.