by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In the final of the Junior Boys’ Singles event in Guimares, Ioannis Sgouropoulos had beaten Romania’s Cristian Pletea; in Split occupying the no.2 seeded position in the draw, once again he beat Cristian Pletea, the top seed (13-11, 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10) only on this occasion it was in the opening round of the second stage of proceedings.
The reason was that the previous day Ioannis Sgouropoulos had experienced defeat at the hands of Azerbaijan’s Yu Khinhang (11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 12-10, 12-10, 11-8) and had thus finished in second place in the group. Yu Khinhang duly topped the group.
A hard fought win in opposition to Cristian Pletea, it was the same against Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk, the no.7 seed (5-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9, 11-6) and when facing Sweden’s Truls Moregard, the no.4 seed, in the contest that clinched the Buenos Aires invitation (13-11, 14-12, 11-9, 6-11, 12-10).
Defeat for Ioannis Sgouropoulos against Yu Khinhang, for Vladimir Sidorenko, the no.3 seed, it was success; he beat the young man from Azerbaijan in the decisive contest emerging successful in six games (5-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-6). Earlier Vladimir Sidorenko had overcome Lithuania’s Medardas Stankievicius, the no.11 seed (11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-8) and Frenchman Bastien Rembert, the no.5 seed (11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7, 11-9).
Occupying the respective second and third seeded positions in the competition, the success gained by Ioannis Sgouropoulos and Vladimir Sidorenko was no great surprise; equally the fact that Mariia Tailakova ensured qualification did not raise eyebrows; she commenced matters as the no.2 seed. However, the success gained by Lucie Gauthier was somewhat unexpected.
Impressively she rose to the occasion, the young lady for the big occasion; the no.7 seed, she beat Slovenia’s Katarina Strazar, the no.17 seed (11-9, 11-3, 11-3, 15-17, 10-12, 11-3) prior to causing the biggest upset of the day by recovering from a three games to nil deficit to overcame Azerbaijan’s Ning Jing, the top seed (3-11, 10-12, 8-11, 11-6, 16-14, 13-11, 13-11).
Undoubtedly boosted by the win, in the engagement which determined the Buenos Aires place, she defeated Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.3 seed (11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 12-10, 5-11, 11-9).
An outstanding performance by Lucie Gauthier, it rather overshadowed the splendid efforts of Mariia Tailakova, who like Lucie Gauthier, was embroiled in tense contests.
She accounted for Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn, the no.11 seed, in five games (11-6, 7-11, 11-2, 11-5, 11-8), before needing the full seven games to overcome Italy’s Jamila Laurenti, the no.9 seed. She emerged successful by the very narrowest of margins (7-11, 11-2, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 9-11, 11-9). The win reserved a place in the decisive contest where she overcame the Czech Republic’s Zdena Blaskova, the no.12 seed (9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 13-11).
A further event based on the same principles now follows on Sunday 5th November to determine the remaining two places for men and two for women.