Efremova and Darderi beaten as Les Petits As loses two big attractions in round two
The Mondial Lacoste, the unofficial world championship for the under-14s, takes place in Tarbes until the end of the week
The Petits As tournament in Tarbes has lost two of its most anticipated faces of the 2022 edition, the Italian Vito Antonio Darderi for the boys and the Russian Ksenia Efremova for the girls. Strong personalities, both followed by cameras between matches, they were beaten in the second round in the two most watched meetings on centre court on Wednesday.
Darderi, a whimsical Italian player with long hair and a cap, made life difficult for the No1 seed, the Swiss Flynn Thomas, who emerged victorious 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 in almost three hours, having trailed 4-1 in the final set.
Thomas, born in 2008 like most of the participants, despite his small size, won the war of nerves against Darderi, whose vociferousness earned him a penalty point on an advantage for Thomas in a key game of the second set.
The main seeds remain in contention in the men’s draw at the stage of the round of 16, since Ivan Ivanov (No 2) and Thijs Boogard (No 3), the other favourites are still in contention. France has only one remaining representative at the stage of the round of 16, with Lenny Petit, seeded sixth, set to face the American Carel Ngounoue.
In girls, the Russian Ksenia Efremova, a year younger than the competition, fell in the second round against the Czech Veronika Sekerkova, from the qualifications and seeded No 13 (6-2, 6-4).
Sekerkova took advantage of a game plan that has become rare in U14, based on an intractable defense and long, arcing topspin drives. She wore down the aggressiveness of Efremova, who seemed to have got the measure of the match in the second set but gave up her serve twice after leading 4-3. Struggling physically after the longest exchanges, she also showed signs of an apparent injury to her right knee.
Driven to tears by the loss, Efremova did not have the strength to respond to media requests after this defeat, which ends a series of three tournaments won on the Tennis Europe circuit in the U14 category, 16 consecutive matches won without losing a set. Efremova had not tasted defeat since her round of 16 loss at the Petits As de Tarbes last September against Hannah Klugman.
Sekerkova will face one of the favourites of the competition, the German Julia Stusek (seeded third), with a timid style of play but with superior game intelligence, in the next round. The other headliners of the tournament are still in the running: Alena Kovackova (No 1), Laura Samsonova (No 2) and Briton Klugman, already a semi-finalist in 2021.
The French No 1, Ophélie Boullay, is the last Tricolour representative, four months after the victory of her compatriot Mathilde Ngijol Carré.