Two golds for Kota and Katz to close the season in LA
What a weekend it was for the Americans in Los Angeles. Two home teams made it to the finals to play at Venice Beach for gold, but it was the Hungarians who took all the brightest medals.
The four favourites advanced to the semifinals without any problem, where things heated up. Gabriella Kota&Krisztina Acs have been dominant throughout the second half of the year, but they suffered defeat twice during this period in the finals, both in the hands of Vania Moraes da Cruz&Ester Viana Mendes. This time, the two teams’ paths crossed in the semifinal, and their clash did not disappoint. The Hungarians took the first set by only 3 points, and the second one turned out to be even tighter, as Kota/Acs edged out the Brazilians 12-11.
On the other side of the bracket, Petra Pechy&Nora Vicsek, another Hungarian duo faced singles world champion Carolyn Greco and her new partner, Kimberly Baker. Backed by the home crowd, the Americans took over in straight sets and marched into the gold medal game, but they were not able to carry the momentum there as Kota&Acs dominated both the first (12-3) and the second set (12-2). The Hungarian duo emerged as one of the main contenders for the World Championship.
Kota/Acs (HUN) – Greco/Baker (USA) 2:0 (-3, -2)
"We know each other very well and we were prepared. Naturally, the latest results put some pressure on us at the world championships, but in the upcoming period we will only focus on that." - says Acs.
Kota/Acs could not be surprised by Baker's smashes.
The Brazilians finally finished in the 3rd position after three close sets.
Right after the women’s competition final, Kota and Acs had to part ways for the mixed finals, where they faced each other on the side of Balazs Katz and Csaba Banyik, respectively. Both units were tested early: in the Round of 8, Kota&Katz took on fellow Hungarians Vicsek&Martin Csereklye, but after closing them out only by one point in the first set, they made it look easier in the second. In the semifinal, they met Moraes da Cruz&Leonardo Lindoso de Almeida and did not let their opponent have any kind of hope about the final as they scored 10 more points in two sets.
Acs&Banyik also had to beat Brazilians on their way to the final. Patricia Mayara Nardy&Leonardo Santana were not able to slow them down, but Viana Mendes with individual world champion Apor Gyorgydeak on her side proved to be a tougher challenge. The first set was decided by only one point, the second though was not as hard fought. Acs and Banyik looked to be the stronger unit early on and they took the opening set with the last point. Kota and Katz not only fought back and forced a third set, but were able to turn the match around and claim the tournament victory. This is their second consecutive gold and the third one in the last for events.
Kota/Katz (HUN) – Acs/Banyik (HUN) 2:1 (11-, -8, -10)
"We like to tease each other with Acs & Banyik before the matches, but when we stand at the table all I think about is the W. That is the greatest feeling especially as we won back-to-back after Pula." - highlights Katz.
In spite of Banyik's multiple aces, Kota/Katz triumphed again.
Viana Mendes went on to collect her second bronze of the tournament along with Gyorgydeak against Moraes da Cruz/Lindoso de Almeida
Banyik and Katz quickly teamed up after the mixed final to try to end the dreams of Dennis Correia and Luka Pilic – the Americans won the year’s first tournament in LA but have not found the way to the final since. This time, they indicated in the quarterfinals that they were coming for a medal, as they eliminated one of the favourites, Lindoso de Almeida/Santana in the comeback. Then in the semis, they lost the first set again versus Gyorgydeak/Szabolcs Ilyes, only to make another fantastic rebound.
Banyik/Katz made it clear that they are back to their usual level as they made it look easy against Frankie Diaz&Branislav Rodman in the Quarterfinals, then sent Csereklye&Adam Blazsovics to the bronze medal game in three sets.
It did not seem to disturb the Hungarian twosome that they had to play another match right after a three-set thriller as they maintained control from the beginning. The first set was quite lopsided in favour of the ‘visitors’, and while the Americans could make it tougher for them in the second, there was no doubt about who would end up with the bigger trophies. This is Banyik’s and Katz’s second consecutive victory and the fourth in the last five tournaments.
Banyik/Katz (HUN) – Correia/Pilic (USA) 2:0 (-7, -9)
"I am a maximalist, so it is a bittersweet moment, but the trophy we won here in Venice Beach helps." - adds Banyik.
Banyik & Pilic after the final.
The double led by four-time world champion Blazsovics achieved the bronze medal in three sets against the Romanians.