by Simon Daish
Runner up in the Junior Girls’ Singles draw at last year’s tournament Ning Jing has kept herself on course to make it back-to-back appearances in the final, after the Azerbaijan player booked her place in this year’s last four with a strong showing against Russia’s Kristina Kazantseva.
Despite suffering an opening game loss the number three seed Ning Jing kept her cool, claiming the next four games in a row to progress through to the semi-finals (9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8).
Adina Diaconu ended Jennie Wolf’s campaign, beating the 18th seed from Germany by a four games to one scoreline (11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 12-14, 12-10) to keep the dream of a third consecutive title win alive for the Romanian star.
Last year at the European Youth Championships Adina Diaconu emerged triumphant against Ning Jing in the Junior Girls’ Singles final. Victories for both players in the quarter-finals of the 2017 tournament sees the two contestants face one another once again but this time in the last four.
Anastasia Kolish of Russia prevailed against the other Romanian involved in semi-finals action Andreea Dragoman (12-10, 8-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6), and will meet fellow compatriot Mariia Tailakova in an all-Russian fixture.
Looking very confident in her game Mariia Tailakova posted a relatively straightforward victory over German opponent Luisa Säger across five ends (11-6, 11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 11-5) and will be aiming for a similar performance on the concluding day of the competition in Portugal.
“I was not nervous, nor under pressure. The exception was the last game, when I had to close the match in the fifth game. It is my first singles medal. I am so happy that I have won it, because the last time I played against Dragoman I lost!”, Anastasia Kolish.
Simon Soderlund remains in the hunt for the Junior Boys’ Singles title, after the Swedish player successfully progressed from his quarter-finals tie against Italy’s Carlo Rossi.
Seeded 16th for the competition Simon Soderlund was rarely troubled in the match, celebrating the win after just four games (11-8, 11-9, 11-4, 11-8).
Next up for the Swede is a tough fixture against Cristian Pletea following a strong display from the top seed in his encounter with England’s Tom Jarvis (11-7, 12-10, 5-11, 11-2, 12-10) and the Romanian player is happy to have booked his place on the medals podium.
“Tom is very strong both in attack and in defense. He has a many variations on the service. I had to attack him to the middle and I also had to change my service game. It is my first semi-finals as a junior and I am feeling very well”, Cristian Pletea.
Victories over Gerrit Engemann (10-12, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 11-4, 11-9) and Artur Abusev (11-3, 11-9, 6-11, 11-6, 11-0) sees the second seeded player Rares Sipos and the number four seed Ioannis Sgouropoulos qualify for the penultimate round of the competition, where they will do battle in what is anticipated to be a very exciting duel.
Stag 2017 European Youth Championships: Results – Saturday 22nd July