by Simon Daish
Day two of the 2016 ITTF World Tour Czech Open saw the end of the Under 21 Women’s Singles qualifying groups, and it wasn’t without drama as Izabela Lupulesku pulled off a fantastic comeback to reach the Round of 32.
Lupulesku had all but undone her opening day win over Celine Reust (Switzerland) after she let a 2-1 lead slip through her fingers, losing 2-3 to Alina Nikitchanka (Belarus).
Barbora Kapounova made matters worse for Lupulesku, following the Czech’s final game triumph against Reust and setting up a vital clash between Lupulesku and Kapounova with the defeated player to be eliminated.
The match actually began well for Lupulesku who took the opening lead, but the tie was soon turned on its head as the home favourite Kapounova won back-to-back ends to move 1-2 in front. Then Kapounova held match point in game four and all hope looked lost for her Serbian opponent.
However, Lupulesku kept fighting and eventually it paid off as she not only recovered to take the fourth game, but also the match (11-8, 9-11, 9-11, 14-12, 11-4) to complete a wonderful victory and more importantly seal the runner-up spot in the group.
“I had a problems to concentrate on the match. I was nervous and scared after I lost my previous match against Nikitchanka. But afterwards I told to myself not to be so nervous and started to play a lot better from the third set. I had tougher opponents in U21 category… that´s why it took more energy and power to succeed. And I missed a week of practice which I felt a bit. But I am happy to get through. ” – Izabela Lupulesku (Serbia).
Close Shave for Park
Korea Republic’s Park Seri competed at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, but she came close to a shock exit in Olomouc.
Park had won her match against Marketa Sevcikova (Czech Republic) with ease, but an end-to-end battle with Bosnia’s Emina Hadziahmetovic concluded in defeat for the Korean player (12-14, 11-5, 11-5, 3-11, 9-11).
Sevcikova’s brace over Emina Hadziahmetovic and Lucia Truksova (Slovakia) then followed, giving the Czech fans a reason to be cheerful and leaving Park in a difficult position.
The task for Park was simple: beat Truksova or face elimination. Both competitors gave it their all and won alternating games until the match was eventually brought to an end as Park took game five in style (11-5, 9-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-1) to qualify for the main competition.
Main Draw Awaits for Hosts
Two players from the Czech Republic have progressed beyond the preliminary round: Karolina Mynarova and Katerina Tomanovska finished second in their groups, and will face Adina Diaconu (Romania) and Natsumi Nakahata (Japan) in the hunt for the last 16.
Thursday 1st September: Under 21 Women’s Singles – Qualification Stage