by Simon Daish
Romanian competitor Cristian Pletea, who was named top seed for the category, made the perfect start to the concluding day in Worcester by registering a straight games victory over Germany’s Tobias Hippler (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10) before claiming his second win of the day with a strong performance against Irvin Bertrand of France (11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 11-5).
However, the biggest challenge was yet to come for Cristian Pletea, with a fixture against Ioannis Sgouropolous essentially representing the title decider.
Both players met as recently as July in the Junior Boys’ Singles final at the Stag 2017 European Youth Championships in Guimarães, Portugal. Ioannis Sgouropolous prevailed on that occasion but this time Cristian Pletea earned his revenge, defeating the Greek without conceding a game (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 11-5) to emerge as champion.
Sgouropolous will be somewhat disappointed to miss out on the title win, but the Greek can feel proud of his recent form collecting a runners-up trophy in Worcester to go alongside his European Youth Championships gold medal.
The third podium spot went to French competitor Bastien Rembert, who came through the day’s action winning all six points on offer.
Dropping just the one game from his encounter against Matteo Mutti of Italy (11-5, 19-21, 11-5, 11-3, 13-11), Bastien Rembert went on to claim positive results from his two remaining matches against Florian Cnudde (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 11-2) and Rares Sipos (11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 11-7) of Belgium and Romania respectively.
Two victories for Irvin Bertrand on the final day resulted in a fourth position finish for the French athlete, with Gerrit Engemann of Germany recording wins in all of his day three fixtures to finish in fifth.
Samuel Kulczycki was the other male contestant to win a title in Worcester, following a fine outing from the Polish star in the final three rounds of Cadet Boys’ Singles matches.
Arguably the most important fixture came at the start of the day as Samuel Kulczycki went head-to-head with France’s Bilal Hamache, who entered the final day in first position. However, it was the Polish competitor who prevailed in six games (11-7, 11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 12-14, 12-10) and ultimately went on to receive the winners prize.
Bilal Hamache was restricted to a second place finish in the category, while another French player Dorian Zheng secured the bronze medal.