by Simon Daish
Four group winners progressed through to the Round of 16 including the defending champions Romania.
Following a successful outing on the opening day of play, Romania picked up its third Group A victory with a strong performance against Slovenia.
Once again Adina Diaconu was in impressive form claiming a brace against Slovenian opponents Katarina Strazar (11-2, 11-7, 11-7) and Ana Tofant (11-4, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8), while Andreea Dragoman also prevailed over Tofant (11-9, 13-11, 11-9) in the opening fixture of the match.
Defeat for Slovenia on day two, but rather astonishingly, the team advanced beyond the group stage with a second position finish after France lost out to Croatia by a 1-3 scoreline.
Azerbaijan has comfortably breezed through Group C in top spot, after a solid showing from Ning Jing helped the team to a 3-1 triumph over Hungary, but all eyes were on Spain’s battle with Belarus. Fighting for second position in the group both sides put everything on the line, and in the end Zhang Xuan Xu’s victories against Belarus’ Daria Trigolos (11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 11-6) and Nadezhda Bogdanova (11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-7) proved crucial to seeing Spain over the finish live and automatically through to the top 16.
There was another good day in the Junior Girls’ Team category for Serbia after the team of Tijana Jokic, Izabela Lupulesku and Dragana Vignjevic excelled against Turkey.
The match opened with a fine performance from Tijana Jokic who confidently saw off Simay Kulakceken without dropping a game (11-9, 11-4, 11-5), while Izabela Lupulesku achieved a similar feat in her encounter with Betul Nur Kahraman (11-9, 13-11, 11-7). Dragana Vignjevic then pulled off a great recovery, defeating Gul Pembe Ozkaya in the deciding game (7-11, 11-1, 9-11, 11-6, 11-3).
“… We beat Turkey 3-0. The first part of the journey has concluded. Now we have to wait for the outcome of the draw”, Izabela Lupulesku.
Off the back of a wonderful opening day at the tournament, Russia continued to show its strength picking up a straightforward win in its match against Norway.
The other side to seal a top two spot in Group B was Belgium who defeated Sweden 3-0, but the match turned out to be a lot closer than the end scoreline may suggest.
Lisa Lung managed to hold off the challenge of Filippa Bergand by a two point margin in the final game of the opening fixture (9-11, 11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-9) before Jana Bernard and Natacha Koszulap came back from trailing positions to beat Sweden’s Kristina Kallberg (4-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5) and Jennie Edvinsson (6-11, 4-11, 11-9, 12-10, 11-8) to give Belgium the win.
In summary the four group winners: Romania, Russia, Azerbaijan and Serbia will join the four group runners up: Slovenia, Belgium, Spain and Poland in the last 16 of the competition.
However, not all is lost for the teams positioned third and fourth in each group – they will progress through to a play-off round. The teams achieving third position in the top tier group stage will take on the opposition which achieved second place in the four second tier groups, while the fourth placed teams from the top tier meet the teams which secured top spot in the second tier groups.
Stag 2017 European Youth Championships: Results – Saturday 15th July