by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Never previously had he progressed beyond the third round of an ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles event, arguably his best performance being earlier this year in the Czech Republic when beaten in round three by Germany’s Tobias Hippler.
In Lignano there was no revenge win against Tobias Hippler but it was Maciej Kolodziejczyk who had the last laugh.
The top seed, Tobias Hippler experienced a surprise quarter-final defeat at the hands of the host nation’s Antonino Amato, the no.8 seed (5-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8, 11-9). Impressively, Antonino Amato continued his good form to beat colleague, John Oyebode, a player who had been required to compete in the qualification stage (12-10, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-4), to reserve his place in the final where Maciej Kolodziejczyk awaited.
“I am completely exhausted and it’s difficult to realize I won. In the first part of the match, till three-one for Antonino, he played so well that I did not have any chance. After losing the fourth game I slipped to the ground and when I got up I thought that I could lose the match. I stayed calm and little by little I came back. I am really happy of this first win”, Maciej Kolodziejczyk
Similar to Antonino Amato, Maciej Kolodziejczyk had exceeded expectations to reach the title decider; opportunities arose, against in-form players those opportunities were seized.
Day Two at the 2017 Italian Junior and Cadet Open in Lignano
Notably in the third round, Kay Stumper had beaten Hungary’s Istvan Molnar, the no.2 seed (4-11, 11-8, 11-7, 8-11, 11-9, 17-15), Francisco Miguel Ruiz had ended the hopes of the host nation’s Matteo Mutti, the no.3 seed (5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-9).
Disappointment for Matteo Mutti, the country’s leading junior but in the final, it appeared that the top step of the podium was destined for Italy; Antonino Amato secured a three games to one lead, before Maciej Kolodziejczyk recovered to clinch victory in seven games (6-11, 8-11, 12-10, 12-14, 11-8, 11-6, 11-4).
Gold for Maciej Kolodziejczyk, silver for Antonino Amato; earlier in the day in the Junior Boys’ Doubles event it had been the reverse scenario.
Antonino Amato alongside colleague, Daniele Pinto, the no.3 seeds, accounted for Maciej Kolodziejczyk and Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, the no.4 seeds, at the final hurdle to arrest the title (8-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 11-3).
Earlier in the day at the quarter-final stage, Antonino Amato and Daniele Pinto had beaten Hungary’s Patrik Juhasz and Istvan Molnar, the no.5 seeds (11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4), before ousting Tobias Hippler and Kay Stumper, the top seeds (11-4, 10-12, 11-9, 11-1).
“In the final match, when we were down two games to one. I knew we would have to pull out to the last drop of energy to win. The problem was that I did not play well. In the fifth game it was not a question of a technical difference. We did not make mistakes because we were strong in the head”, Daniele Pinto
Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, in the latter stages, Maciej Kolodziejczyk and Yanapong Panagitgun had defeated the Slovak Republic’s Stefan Peko and Tibor Spanik, the no.8 seeds (11-7, 11-7, 11-5), before ending the hopes of Germany’s Cedric Meissner and Meng Fanbo, the no.6 seeds (11-7, 11-7, 4-11, 11-8).
The individual events completed, attention now turns to the Junior Boys’ and Cadet Boys’ Team competitions.