South-American semifinal at the U19 World Championships
The Brazilians first knocked out last year’s bronze medallist Torey DeFalco and his partner Louis Richard from the USA in the second elimination round (21-14, 19-21, 15-8) and also won the quarterfinal against France’s Loiseau/Gauthier-Rat (24-26, 21-12, 15-9).
Both matches were tough for the 17- and 18-year old Brazilian boys, who were without set loss until Saturday. Especially the French pushed them to the limit with aggressive play in a match with two hard-hitting teams.
But the Brazilians fought back, with George Wanderley excelling in both blocking and offence. “It was a hard game”, he said. “We lost the first set and made many mistakes, but got our heads together, changed tactics and managed to win the game.”
“We tried to concentrate more and that was the key”, he continued. “I only played some matches in the Brazilian competition and on the South-American Tour, this is the biggest event for me since I started playing. So it’s very exciting for both of us.”
Asked about his nerves, he answered: “I think everybody gets nervous for the World Championships, because the best players of the world are here, and you are among them and being in the semifinals … I actually don’t have words to describe it.”
Tough matches for Venezuela too
Venezuela’s ‘Tigrito’ Gomez finished 5th last year at the U19 in Porto and build quite a fan base in Portugal. His spectacular playing style makes him ever popular with the ball kids, who all want to have his autograph or shirt.
Like the Brazilians Tigrito and his new partner Rolando ‘Peter’ Hernandez played two tough three-setters on Saturday, winning 2-1 (19-21, 23-21, 15-8) against Spain’s Huerta/Rojas and 2-1 (13-21, 24-22, 15-13) against Russia’s Yarzutkin/Stoyanovskiy.
In both matches the Venezuelans lost the first set and struggled to take the match into a tiebreak. “We started out poor in both matches”, Tigrito said. “But we were convinced we would not lose, despite the first set.”
“We always held our heads high and our minds were focussed on the victory”, he continued. “Thanks to my partner and the audience we won. Now we will evaluate and rest and tomorrow will be another challenge.”