04 Feb 2017

Rising to the occasion, the Czech Republic’s Zdena Blaskova and Belgium’s Eline Loyen were very much the players to attract the attention in the first stage of the Women’s Singles event at the Stag 2017 European Under 21 Championships in Sochi, Russia on Thursday 2nd February.

Each remained unbeaten and on their path to top spot, each beat the highest rated player in their respective group.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Zdena Blaskova accounted for Charlotte Carey of Wales, the sixth highest rated on initial phase duty, in seven games (11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 9-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-5) on what was a very busy day for the Czech Republic player.

In her opening contest she was extended the full distance by the Slovak Republic’s Natalia Grigelova (4-11, 11-8, 11-6, 9-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-1), before in her concluding match of the day needing six games to overcome Sweden’s Filippa Bergand (11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 11-9).

“I just needed time to warm up. Match after match I am playing better and better”, Zdena Blaskova after beating Filippa Bergand.

First place against expectations for Zdena Blaskova, it was the same for Eline Loyen; the crucial contest being the win against the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Stefcova, the 10th highest listed on initial phase duty.

Eline Loyen secured a five games win (12-10, 13-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-7), after having overcome Ioanna Gerasimatou of Greece (11-7, 13-11, 11-5, 5-11, 15-11, 11-6) and prior to beating Norway’s Rebekka Carlsen (11-8, 11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 14-16, 15-13).

Charlotte Carey and Krystina Stefcova duly concluded matters in second place and thus advanced to stage two.

Similarly, it was top spot contrary to expectations for Hanna Patseyeva of Belarus and the Slovak Republic’s Tatiana Kukulkova; both beat the highest rated player in their respective groups.

Hana Patseyeva overcame Israel’s Nicole Trosman (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-9), Tatiana Kukulkova overcame Belgium’s Lisa Lung (12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4)

“It was important to set my own pace at the very beginning of the match. I succeeded, I was surprised by the straight games victory”, Tatiana Kukulkova after beating Lisa Lung.

Also, it was first place for Sweden’s Tilda Johansson against predictions. She beat Angelique Gretenbach of the Netherlands (10-12, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6) and Maria Yovkova of Belarus (8-11, 12-10, 11-8, 7-11, 11-3, 11-7) but sandwiched in between she lost to Romania’s Elena Zaharia (11-5, 4-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-6, 14-12).

“I lost two opening games, but I managed to recover and to win. I am not disappointed by the slow start; it was my adversary who really played very good at the beginning. The whole team is ready for the challenge, we had a good training camp and we worked with the national senior team, so we expect good results; for us it is a good opportunity to have Championships like Under 21, to have the opportunity to play and to learn more”, Tilda Johansson after beating Angelique Gretenbach

However, Maria Yovkova overcame Elena Zaharia (11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4) and Angelique Gretenbach (12-10, 11-13, 7-11, 17-15, 5-11, 11-3, 11-9), before in the final match in the group Angelique Gretenbach defeated Elena Zaharia (11-9, 6-11, 4-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-5).

Thus it was two wins apiece for Tilda Johansson and Maria Yovkova; in such instances the result of the match decides the placings; hence it was first position for the Swede.

 Day One: Stag 2017 European Under 21 Championships
Photos: Alex Lomaev – Butterfly

Latest results: Stag European Under 21 Championships.

Stag 2017 European Under 21 Championships Zdena Blaskova Eline Loyen