by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Representing Italy ‘A’, Matteo Gualdi and John Oyebode, the Cadet Boys’ Team winners started play as the no.2 seeds; likewise on duty for Italy ‘A’, Jameli Laurenti and Evelyn Vivarelli, the silver medallists in the Cadet Girls’ Team competition, beaten by the French trio of Cloe Chomis, Lou Frete and Lucie Mobarek, commenced proceedings as the no.5 seeds.
Furthermore, for both successful partnerships, the same pattern was followed in the latter rounds, a three matches to nil success in the final was preceded by a hard fought full distance penultimate round clash.
Against Portugal, the no.3 seeds, in the penultimate round; after John Oyebode lost to Tiago Li (12-10, 5-11, 12-14, 11-6, 11-6) and Matteo Gualdi suffered defeat against Gonçalo Gomes (10-12, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7) the outcome looked bleak for the hosts. It was at that stage the recovery began. The Italians won the doubles (11-9, 11-8, 11-9), before Matteo Gualdi accounted for Tiago Li (11-9, 4-11, 11-9, 11-7) and John Oyebode completed to fightback by overcoming Gonçalo Gomes (11-9, 15-13, 12-10).
“Our start in the qualification phase of yesterday was not so good, while today in the draw we played better. In the semi-final against Portugal we lost the first two matches but we never lost hope and came back”, Matteo Gualdi
In the final against Belgium’s Adrien Rassenfosse and Nicolas Degros, the no.4 seeds, life was less dramatic. John Oyebode beat Adrien Rassenfosse (11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-7) before Matteo Gualdi accounted for Nicolas Degros (14-12, 9-11, 11-8, 11-3) and a doubles success (11-3, 9-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-9), clinched the title.
“The semi-final was very hard but in normal conditions we should not have been nil to two down. At that point everything was difficult but we believed to be able to win. In the final grit and enthusiasm were the keys to beat Belgium. Also the audience cheering was decisive to help us to play our best game”, John Oyebode
Meanwhile France, also the no.2 seeds, found Rachel Sung, a major obstacle in their penultimate round clash against the United States, the no.9 seeds. The 12 year old beat both Lucie Mobarek (11-7, 11-3, 11-4) and Lou Frete (11-7, 11-6, 12-10) but that was to be the only successes for the Stars and Stripes.
Twin sister Joanna was beaten by Kou Frete (11-7, 11-5, 15-13) and in the crucial deciding fifth encounter by Lucie Mobarek (11-7, 11-8, 11-9), after Cloe Chomis and Lou Frete had recovered from a two games to nil deficit secure the doubles (7-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8).
Day Four: titles decided in the Team events at the 2017 Italian Junior and Cadet Open
“The tournament was very competitive and we were the second seeds, so in the final we had the pressure to win. The objective at the beginning was to gain confidence with a view to the next tournaments. I wanted to deploy all the athletes I had in the team and so it is thanks to all that we won this gold medal. To win in Italy against Italian team is never easy and we are satisfied of this outcome” Claude Thuilliez, French Cadet Girls’ Team coach
Earlier at the semi-final stage; thanks to wins from Jamila Laurenti over Denisa Uritu (11-5, 11-2, 8-11, 12-10) and Elena Zaharia (11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-1), plus a doubles success in partnership with Evelyn Vivarelli against Luciana Mitrofan and Elena Zhararia, a three-one win had been recorded against Romania, the no.5 seeds.
Impressive from Jamila Laurenti, for Belgium at the semi-final stage of the Cadet Boys’ Team event, it had been an imposing effort from Nicolas Degros.
He beat both Guillaume Alcayde (11-7, 5-11, 11-2, 11-9) and in the vital fifth and concluding contest Fabio Rakotoarimanana (11-9, 9-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-6). The one remaining Belgium win was clinched by Adrien Rassenfosse. He accounted for Guillaume Alcayde (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7) after having lost to Fabio Rakotoarimanana in the opening match of the fixture (16-14, 11-6, 11-5).
Play concludes on Sunday 12th March with play in the Cadet Boys’ Singles, Cadet Girls’ Singles, Cadet Boys’ Doubles, Cadet Girls’ Doubles, Hopes Boys’ Singles and Hopes Girls’ Singles events.
Photos: Domenico Vallorini