After his nail-biting, lively quarter-final defeat against World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev at the Australian Open, old. National Tennis Center hosted by Rogers (NTC) graduate Félix Auger-Aliassime said he “keeps his head held high”. Now current NTC class members Kayla Cross (16) and Victoria Mboko (15) can do exactly the same, after scoring an exciting run in the junior girls’ doubles draw with a runner-up trophy.
After both dropped out of the junior girls singles competition after second-round losses, the Canadian pair quickly turned their attention to doubles. They entered the draw unopposed, but immediately scored a straight set, 7-6 (5), 6-3 victory over the no. 5 selected, Lucija Ciric Bagaric and Sofia Costoulas, in the first round before a hard fight of 7-6 (6), 4-6, [10-4] victory over the Czech couple Lucie Havlickova and Dominika Salkova in round two.
Their quarterfinal match with Ekaterina Khayrutdinova and Aruzhan Sagandikova led them in second gear to a 6-2, 6-2 win, while a 7-6 (6), 2-6, [10-7] semi-final victory over no. 2 seed Petra Marcinko and Johanne Svendsen showed they mean business.
In the final, Cross and Mboko faced their toughest test yet, the tournament’s No. 1 seed Clervie Ngounoue of the United States and Diana Shnaider of Russia. However, they started perfectly and consolidated an early break from takeoff to take a 3-1 lead. Their opponents leveled the proceedings at 4-4, yielding another important break to take the first set 6-4.
Ngounoue and Shnaider took that momentum in the second set and started it strong by leading 3-0. Cross and Mboko showed their resilience by winning the next three games to level the scores, but a second break of service for their opponents led them to take the lead. This was an advantage that Ngounoue and Shnaider would carry to the title as the second set ended 6-3.
Despite the defeat, Cross and Mboko expressed great pride in their run-up to the final and have already set their sights on the future. Cross said: “Vicky and I have played a lot together over the past year and this was our first Grand Slam doubles match. Although we were not selected, I was confident that we could have a good run because we play very well together and we have a good time.
“Of course I would have liked to have won the final, but I’m so happy to be there, it’s a great achievement and I can not wait for what the future holds for the two of us!”
“Well, it has felt very good since we walked on the track,” Mboko added. “Even though it is not the biggest stadium, it was definitely incredible. It’s really exciting to get through to the finals of a Grand Slam, and I can not wait to play a lot at this tournament in the future. ”