Ma, Scott send Team USA into Jr. Fed Cup finals
ORLANDO, Fla. — After reaching Saturday’s Junior Fed Cup semifinals in dramatic fashion, Team USA booked its sixth straight final appearance with a businesslike performance against No. 6-seeded Germany.
Connie Ma and Katrina Scott notched a pair of straight-sets singles wins for the home team at the USTA National Campus, keeping mission three-peat alive with a 2-0 team victory. The U.S. girls will take on the Czech Republic, who took out top-seeded Russia in the opposite semi, in the championship match. Set for Sunday at 11 a.m., the final will be aired live on Tennis Channel.
Ma (pictured above) was clinical once again in a 6-3, 6-2 victory over Natasja Schunk to give the U.S. a 1-0 lead. What the slim 16-year-old lacks in power she more than makes up for in grace, and her smooth game was on full display in Tennis Channel's featured match of the day.
"Hitting cleanly, stuff like that, is a big part of my game... just timing," said Ma, who unlike most top junior players, attends high school in person (rather than online) in her native California.
Her all-around game has worked wonders at the No. 2 singles spot this week; she has now won all eight sets she’s played in this competition. The five games she dropped on Saturday doubled her total amount of games lost from her first three matches.
Just as in the quarterfinals, she gave fellow Californian Scott the chance to clinch the tie at the No. 1 singles spot. This time, the 15-year-old got the job done, edging Mara Guth, 6-3, 6-4. Just as U.S. captain Jamea Jackson predicted, Scott came back strong after a tough loss against Italy on Friday.
"It was disappointing that I couldn't get the win [yesterday], but I just told myself to forget about it," said Scott. "Today's a new day, a new match. This is the semifinals, so I had to let it go."
In control for much of the semifinal match, Scott fought off a late charge from her German opponent to avoid a third set. Serving at 4-3 in the second, Scott had multiple game points, but a pair of double faults turned ad-in into break point at ad-out. Guth leveled at 4-all with some aggressive return play, then powered to the opening point of her service game.
But with the momentum quickly shifting, Scott regrouped to take the last two games and avoid a repeat of Friday’s drama.
"The wind was making it really difficult for me to serve," she said, "but I just told myself, 'Restart, new game. You have to make balls, you have to make her work for it, not give her free points or easy points.' "
After Scott's win clinched the tie, the doubles match was not played, allowing he Americans enjoyed some extra rest. Ma and Robin Montgomery, who won a decisive doubles rubber on Friday, were slated to compete. No doubt they will be ready if called upon for a championship-deciding doubles match against the Czechs.
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.