by Simon Daish
Top seeded player Cristian Pletea was hoping to lift the Junior Boys’ Singles trophy for the first time and headed into the title match off the back of a strong result against Sweden’s Simon Soderlund in the penultimate round of the tournament (11-6, 12-10, 12-10, 11-9).
Ioannis Sgouropoulos on the other hand very nearly missed out on making an appearance in the final as the Greek competitor was forced to pull off a comeback win (8-11, 11-6, 9-11, 10-12, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4) in his last four encounter against the second seed Rares Sipos.
Occupying fourth position on the seeding list Ioannis Sgouropoulos was the apparent underdog heading into the final, but after making a strong start to the tie the Greek player soon found himself leading the match by a three games to one margin against the top seed.
Fighting to stay in the match Cristian Pletea attempted a recovery effort and was able to register back-to-back game wins to level the final at three ends apiece, but Ioannis Sgouropoulos held his nerve claiming the deciding game in deuce to seal the trophy.
“I struggled with fatigue in the middle of the match. After I went 3-1 up Pletea recovered and came back into the match. He was in the lead in the seventh game, but I forced myself to calm down”, Ioannis Sgouropoulos.
The Junior Boys’ Singles tournament may not have produced the ideal ending for Cristian Pletea, but he did receive silverware on the closing day of play in Guimarães after the Romanian representative and his Russian partner Denis Ivonin emerged successful in the Junior Boys’ Doubles category.
Taking on the 13th seeded pairing of Sweden’s Simon Soderlund and Cedric Meissner of Germany, Cristian Pletea and Denis Ivonin put in a confident display prevailing in straight games to reach the top step of the podium (11-7, 11-8, 11-9).
Stag 2017 European Youth Championships: Results – Sunday 23rd July