The USA Junior Water Polo Team placed 8th on the 19th Fina World Men’s Junior Water Polo Championships 2017. A better placement would have been justified, considering the level of play they showed during their difficult tournament. They were able to confirm their role as a favourite in the matches they won, while they staed just shy from a big sensation in their hardest games. They showed great passion and a strong wish for more, with some players already displaying senior skill level.
Total Waterpolo was able to talk to their Head Coach Gavin Arroyo and their experienced left forward Jonathan Hooper right after their tournament conclusion, where they suffered a loss against strong Italians.
Gavin Arroyo shared his thoughts on the championships and his team’s performance:
What do you think of the tournament as a whole, considering organization and your players?
The organization is fantastic, Darko knows how to host a tournament. We have a slightly unexperienced team, not so much on level of play but in mental situations we need to get much better. Today was obviously very disappointing we couldn’t hold out anymore. We are not used to this kind of a long tournament. For our guys to stay mentally focused during one period of time is something we have to do better, I have to do better preparing for longer tournaments.
Are you satisfied with the players performance?
You know, we could have beaten Greece or we could have beaten Montenegro. We had a couple of losses that I wish we hadn’t. We were close with Croatia…A win in those games and I would have been more satisfied, but you have to play more than one good game.
What is your prediction for tonight’s final game?
They are both very good teams we had to play both of them. It’s going to be a great game.
Jonathan Hooper as one of the more experienced players from his team, had the following to say:
I definitely wish we could have done a little better, we had a hard road. We played as a team and the two teams that we lost to in the beginning, Croatia and Greece, are in the finals right now. We took both those teams to one goal each time. I’m proud of the guys we had here, we played as a team. Other than that, we’ll be back and we’ll come back stronger.
Who will make it tonight in the finals between Croatia and Greece?
I think they are both very good teams, I know a couple of people from Greece, I know a couple of people from Croatia, too…I don’t know, it could go either way, but personally, I think Greece might win, but I don’t know…Who knows, Croatia always pulls something out.
We are excited to see what the future of USA Water polo will look like, after seeing their youngster’s strong performance during Belgrade 2017.