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Gold for United States and Thailand but Everyone a Medallist in Falkenberg
By: Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Vilmer Georgsson, ITTF Hopes Boys' Singles bronze medallist  Photo By: Coiurtesy of Zita Pidl

06/18/2012        2012 2nd ITTF World Hopes Week & Challenge (Click here to access this section)

Kanak Jha from the United States and Thailand’s Naja Mekamporn won the respective Boys’ and Girls’ Singles event at the ITTF Hopes Challenge on Sunday 17th June 2012 and thus brought a successful week to an end in the Swedish town of Falkenberg.

Lithuania’s Medaras Stankevicius was the silver medallist in the Boys’ event with the bronze medals going to Egypt’s Youssef Abdelaziz and the host nation’s Vilner Georgsson.

Meanwhile, in the Girls’ event, the runners up spot was claimed by Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, with Sweden’s Kristina Kallberg and Ellen Holmsten being the losing semi-finalists.

Not a Single Game Surrendered
“Kanak Jha did not lose a single game during the whole event and won the tournament very confidently”, said Zita Pidl, the ITTF World Hopes Team Manager. “He was sure of himself during the whole week of training and in the tournament underlined the reasons why he was selected for the ITTF World Hopes Team last year.”

Similar to Youssef Abdelaziz, Kanak Jha was a member of the ITTF World Hopes Team in 2011.

Different Style
“The winner of the Girls’ Singles was Naja Mekamporn, she worked hard during the training camp day and the fact she uses pimples on both sides helped her to beat everybody”, explained Zita Pidl. “She was consistent and focused during each match.”

No doubt the fact she had a rather different style of play was an advantage; it was a style which other players had perhaps never practised against.

Wiser and Motivated
“Overall, the event was a success and we, the ITTF staff and coaches, hope that each and every player will go back to their own countries and play even better having learned new things and being motivated as a result of their stay in Falkenberg”, concluded Zita Pidl.

Mikael Andersson, the ITTF Executive Director – Teaching and Training, who masterminded proceedings and Dejan Papic, the Head Coach for the ITTF World Hopes Team, in addition to Zita Pidl, can be delighted with their efforts.

Golden Road
On the final day of proceedings, Kanak Jha progressed to the final by overcoming Iran’s Alireza Rahnamayhaghighi in the quarter-finals (11-4, 11-8, 11-8) and Egypt’s Youssef Abdelaziz in the semi-finals (11-2, 11-7, 11-9), before clinching the title at the expense of Lithuania’s Medaras Stankevicius (11-4-11-7, 11-4).

More Testing
Convincing wins; for Medaras Stankevicius life was slightly more testing.

At the quarter-final stage he beat Sweden’s Alexander Becker in straight games (11-7, 15-13, 11-6) but in the penultimate round, when faced with a second Swede in the guise of Vilner Georgsson, it was a much different task.

He had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to secure victory (10-12, 10-12, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8).

Zita Pidl (far left) and Dejan Papic (far right) with ITTF Hopes players in Falkenberg
Photo courtesy of Zita Pidl

Lost Just One Game
It was most definitely a very impressive performance from Khanak Jha, not one game was lost, it was very similar from Naja Mekamporn.

She surrendered just one game en route to gold; having beaten Celia Silva of France in three straight games in her quarter-final encounter (11-3, 13-11, 11-6), she needed four games to oust Sweden’s Kristina Kallberg in the semi-finals (11-4, 11-9, 17-15, 11-4).

Puerto Rican Outstanding Again
In the final she beat Puerto Rico’s Adrian Diaz (11-9, 11-6, 11-9), the Puerto Rican having overcome Margarita Baltusyte of Belarus in the quarter-finals (10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6) in the host nation’s Ellen Holmsten in the penultimate round (11-8, 11-6, 11-8).

Once again Adrian Diaz showed her qualities; earlier in the year she had represented Puerto Rico in the ITTF Cadet Challenge and in 2011 was a member of the ITTF World Hopes Team.

The ITTF World Hopes Team shirt is the top prize
Photo courtesy of Zita Pidl



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