07 Apr 2017

An increasingly familiar face on this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit, present in the Czech Republic as well as in his native Italy, gaining valuable experience by the month; Matteo Gualdi was very much the player in form at the 2017 Tunisia Junior and Cadet Open in Rades on Thursday 6th April.

The 15 year old advanced to the semi-final stage of the Cadet Boys’ Singles event as his second seeded status advised; likewise it was no surprise that in harness with colleague John Oyebode, he progressed to the Junior Boys’ Doubles penultimate round.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

However, it was in the Junior Boys’ Singles competition where he excelled and caused the biggest shock of the tournament to date.

Occupying the no.9 seed position, in the second round, he beat Romania’s Rares Sipos, the no.2 seed, emerging successful in six games (6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9).

It was one of two surprises as the Junior Boys’ Singles event advanced to the quarter-final stage; the other also involved Italy but at the receiving end. John Oyebode, the no.5 seed, with whom Matteo Gualdi had two days earlier won the Cadet Boys’ Team title, was beaten by Tunisia’s Mootezz Saadaoui, the no.10 seed (11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4).

Success for the host nation and there was more success in a Junior Boys’ Singles second round that saw status prevail. Aboubaker Bourass, the no.6 seed, beat colleague Youssef Ben Attia, the no.13 seed (11-9, 11-9, 10-12, 7-11, 11-2, 11-7); Omar Ammous, the no.7 seed, accounted for India’s Shaurya Tushar Pednekar (4-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

Defeats for Romania and for India but there was second round success; for the former, Cristian Pletea, the top seed, emerged successful against Tunisia’s Atef Ben Salah (11-5, 11-7, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4), for the latter, Shriram Kannan recovered from a three games to nil deficit to end the hopes of Egypt’s Youssef Abdelwahab (6-11, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7).

Meanwhile, in the two second round contests, it was success for Portugal. José Pedro Francisco, the no.3 seed, beat Egypt’s Ahmed Meshref, the no.11 seed (11-7, 16-14, 11-9, 11-5); Vitor Amorin, the no.4 seed, accounted for India’s Payas Jain (11-8, 11-6, 11-6, 11-7).

At the quarter-final stage, in the top half of the draw, Cristian Pletea meets Aboubaker Bourass; Mootezz Saadaoui opposes José Pedro Francisco; in the lower half, it is Vitor Amorin versus Shriram Kannan, Matteo Gualdi in opposition to Omar Ammous.

Last eight Junior Boys’ Singles places decided; in the Cadet Boys’ Singles event, the semi-finalists are known with Matteo Gualdi again catching the eye.

The no.2 seed, he recorded a quarter-final success against Egypt’s Yossef Abdelwahab, having one round earlier defeated Algeria’s Abdelbasset Chaichi, the no.3 seed (11-5, 11-5, 11-7). Earlier in the group phase Abdelbasset Chaichi had finished in second place behind Egypt’s Ahmed Emahdy, who in the opening round experienced defeat at the hands of Tunisia’s Khali Sta (11-1, 16-14, 7-11, 7-11, 11-6).

A fine effort from the host nation’s 13 year old but his adventures were cut short by Payas Jain, the no.5 seed, in the round of the last eight (8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 13-11).

In the penultimate round Payas Jain meets Matteo Gualdi; in the opposite half of the draw John Oyebode confronts Youssef Ben Attia. At the quarter-final stage, John Oyebode beat Tunisia’s Youssef Abid (11-4, 11-5, 11-9); Youssef Ben Attia ended the hopes of India’s Maanav Mehta (11-3, 11-8, 11-8).

Quarter-finalists known in the Junior Boys’ Singles and Cadet Boys’ Singles events; in the Junior Boys’ Doubles competition, the medallists are realised.

Matters advancing very much according to plan; in the semi-finals Matteo Gualdi and John Oyebode meet Vitor Amorin and José Pedro Francisco, Cristian Pletea and Rares Sipos confront Youssef Ben Attia and Aboubaker Bourass.

Play in Rades concludes on Friday 7th April.

 Day Four: 2017 ITTF Tunisia Junior and Cadet Open

Photos: Mokhtar Hmima

World Junior Circuit 2017 Tunisian Junior and Cadet Open Matteo Gualdi

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