MSTT player & coach, Dillon Chambers, played his 2nd (and last) World Junior Championships last week after training in Sweden (Eslov TT Club with other MSTT players, David Powell and Heming Hu) for 7 days. Dillon wrote about his experiences and provided some photo's.
Soon after my year 12 exams finished, I travelled to Eslöv in the south Sweden, to prepare for my second world junior championships, this time being played in Nantes, France. My arrival in Eslöv was not alone, I was greeted by fellow Australians Heming Hu, David Powell, and Jake Duffy, which made it easy to settle in quickly. The weather, on the other hand, came as a nice surprise, snowing for the first two days.
I had five days to train here before travelling to France for the world champs, so it was important to train correctly. The usual routine here is training 9:30-12 and 3-5:30, every day. In my first week I skipped two sessions to conserve energy, and got to watch a Swedish top league match, also training with some higher level players like juniors from Denmark, England, and local players.
I got to France on a Friday night, feeling well prepared for the week ahead, unlike last year, which was my first world championships. Last year the training camp in China directly before the tournament, combined with nerves, overwhelmed me physically and I didn't play my best. The atmosphere in France was strange, we knew that Japan, Chinese Taipei, as a few African countries had withdrawn due to safety reasons, however, these withdrawals made the team event more difficult for us, as even the weaker teams were replaced with strong European teams.
The Australian boys were in a group with USA and Czech Republic, both teams we played last year. The first match was an exciting rematch from last year, Jake Duffy against Stanislav Kucera, a Czech Defender who he stretched to 10-10 in the fifth set last year. This time Jake got the team off to a solid 1-0 lead, a great start to the week. Czech's number one player Tomas Polansky was too strong for our Ivan Sulfaro, and I came on as number 3, against a player is never seen before. I felt steady, and my nerves weren't too bad, but the pressure of keeping my team in the match was there. I'd heard my opponent can be erratic and have a range of playing levels, so I tried to play a tight game and ease my way into the match. I won the first two sets, just from keeping the ball on the table enough for him to miss, but he found his form and came back to 2-2, and I found myself 10-8 down in the fifth set, and decided I should probably start making some more offensive plays if I was going to win, and the risk paid off, I won 12-10.
However, the Czech number one was too strong again, for Jake and the teams were tied at 2-2, with Ivan now playing against the chopper, unfortunately this was a 3-0 loss, an anti climax for our team, but a great start nonetheless.
In the afternoon, we played USA on show court 2. Our team was still disappointed from our morning match, and went down 3-0. Dominic Huang lost to Kanak Jha 3-1, Jake lost to Jack Wang 3-1 and I lost to Sharon Alguetti 3-1, this time more nervous/pressure, as I needed to win to keep the match going.
On the second day, we played Canada, a potential win for us. Our team spirit struggled this match, and we went down 3-0 again, with Dominic Huang narrowly losing 12-10 in the fifth in the third match. I was on the bench.
In the afternoon, we played Egypt, a team of similar level to ours. One of their Players, Youssef Abdel-Azizz, only 15 years old was too strong, although Jake took him to 5 sets. I played third match, and won 3-0 against a nervous (I think) opponent, but we ended up losing 3-2, and having to play New Zealand for 19-20 (bottom two positions).
After one day off, we played New Zealand in the morning, and they came out firing, and landing. Dean Shu defeated Dominic Huang in a surprising first match, Jake duffy escaped a 2-1 10-6 deficit, to bring our team back to 1-1. I played an in form Kevin Lin, and won in a close five sets, with both of us having issues with the umpire's about our serves that we believed were legal. In the end of this frustrating match I easily won fifth set 11-3 mainly because he was "faulted" 3 times, according to an umpire who sits side-on even though I could see the ball all of the time. Our team ended up winning 3-1.
In the singles event, I drew a difficult group, with Germany's number 2, and Serbians number 1, however the German pulled out injured, so I was relaxed, as this gives me an automatic entry through to the main draw. I waited 8 hours for my match with Serbian Nikola Marinkevic. I was confident, as I had established my rhythm at the tournament, whereas this was my opponents first match. I played a safe, smart match, and found myself 3-0 up. He found form the next set to make it 3-1, but I repeated my previous sets and closed the match 4-1, my best international win to date. I was relieved to qualify first in my group, because it gives me a better chance at an easier second round match. I came up against Simon Söderlund of Sweden, and couldn't find my rhythm, going down a disappointing 4-0 to conclude my singles for the week. My teammate Dominic also progress to the main draw after his win against a high ranked Brazilian, but lost 4-0 to Aleksandir Khanin of Belarus.
I played doubles with Ivan Sulfaro, who I've never paired with before, but we played a strong first round match to take out a Belgian pair, and lost a tight four setter against European junior doubles champions from Slovenia. With this final loss, Ivan and I joined the rest of the team now as tourists. We travelled to a town on the beach only 30 minutes away, before watching some of the finals back at the stadium.
I'm now back in Sweden training for 7 weeks, and the hard work begins now, as I don't need to conserve energy. So each day will consist of 4-5 hours on court training, plus service and return practice, and gym 3-4 timesper week to prevent injury and improve speed and stability around the court.