by Wade Townsend
Fourth time lucky?
France’s Can Akkuzu took the Under 21 Men’s Sinlges title in Olomouc, finally bringing a string of runner-up appearances to an end. The No.4 seed took the title, but it was his fourth final appearance on the World Tour. He put the win down to outsmarting his younger opponent; you don’t play in four finals without picking up a few valuable lessons.
“I didn’t play so well in the first rounds but I started to play better and better after each match, I gained a better feeling and my confidence increased. I knew I could win by being cleverer and more consistent than him.” Can Akkuzu
Meanwhile the Under 21 Women’s Singles title was taken by top seed Adriana Diaz from Puerto Rico. She defeated Germany’s Nina Mittelham in five games. A month of hard work at home is showing dividends.
“I prepared intensely in the last month back home in Puerto Rico and I am very happy to achieve such good results at the last two tournaments, reaching for the first time an ITTF World Tour semi-final in Bulgaria and now winning here in Olomouc.” Adriana Diaz.
Main draw determined
Can Akkuzu almost pulled off a massive upset in the Men’s Singles preliminary round to go with his Under 21 crown. The Frenchman led three games to two against Egypt’s Omar Assar. But the Egyptian held his nerve and secured the match in the seventh.
A trio of Chinese challengers all showed to be wary of unknown names, all taking down their opponents to keep rolling though the draw. They had some hurdles along the way, with a few seven game sweats to get through, but no doubt they will keep improving as the event goes deeper.
And while it may be called the Women Singles, the juniors aren’t to be outdone by their senior competition, providing the crowds with some world class table tennis. In a contest of the kids China’s Yuan Yuan, silver medallist at the 2016 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships, overcame Russia’s 16 year old Mariia Tailakova in seven games. That loss meant China’s contingent had a fifty percent success rate in the preliminary rounds of the Women’s Singles, with two out of four players progressing to the first round.
Meanwhile, all of Japan’s top women advanced to the main draw untroubled, as well as recently crowned Under 21 champion, Adriana Diaz, who looked in form as she booked her place in the main event.