Team USA’s Andrew Douglas and Marina Stefanoni narrowly missed out on reaching the 2017 WSF World Junior Championships semifinals after five-game quarterfinal losses against higher seeded opponents Saturday in Tauranga, New Zealand.
Douglas, a 5/8 seed, was on court first against Egypt’s one seed, Youssef Ibrahim. Ibrahim earned an early two game lead, 11-4, 11-3, before Douglas fought back to win the third and fourth games 12-10. In the fifth, Douglas held a 9-7 lead over Ibrahim, at which point the Egyptian rattled off four straight points to win the match in fifty-three minutes.
“So much pressure, I was winning comfortably then it became so tense,” Ibrahim said. “I was playing well, keeping my focus but I couldn’t hold it for three games. I beat him 3-0 in the round of 32 last year, this was much tougher.”
Stefanoni, fourteen years old and a 9/16 seed, followed on court against Japan’s 5/8 seed and two-time U.S. Junior Open champion Satomi Watanabe. The players split two close first games with Stefanoni taking the first 15-13, and Watanabe the second, 12-10. Watanabe then earned a 2-1 lead in the third, 11-8 but Stefanoni forced a fifth game in the fourth, 11-9. Watanabe controlled the fifth to win the match 11-4 in forty-eight minutes.
“I’m so happy to make the top four in the world for the first time,” Watanabe said. “I didn’t start well, 7-10 down in the first two games and I didn’t think I could do it, she’s so good and so young. But I told myself that this is my last worlds and I had to make it, and I did so I’m really happy!”
Both Douglas and Stefanoni will continue consolation play for 5-8 place, while Team USA’s girls look ahead to the team competition Tuesday, July 25.