30 Nov 2017

Desperately she wanted to play but she was not selected; at the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda, she had to sit on the bench and watch her colleagues ply their skills. However, her colleagues did rather well; Adina Diaconu, Andreea Dragoman and Tania Plaian combined the win the bronze medal in the Girls’ Team event.

Elena Zaharia stood proudly on the third step of the podium, on Thursday 30th November, the 13 year old was the star turn; she caused the biggest upset of the day, remaining unbeaten to top the group.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In her opening contest she beat Crystal Wang of the United States (11-4, 9-11, 5-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-7), at no.26 on the current Under 18 Girls’ World Ranking list, the highest rated player in the group. Elena Zaharia is at no.74.

“When I started the match I said to myself “you can do it”, I played her last year at the 2016 ITTF World Cadet Challenge and I beat her twice; once in the team event, once in the singles. Today was the third time but at the start of the match I had a bad feeling; I said to myself: “fight, fight, fight”. She had problems returning my service; often she long and I was able to top spin the return, for me serve short and then attack quickly.” Elena Zaharia

Success against Crystal Wang; in the concluding contest, it was success in opposition to the Czech Republic’s Stanislava Slezakova, ranked no.167; Elena Zaharia prevailed in five games (11-7, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9).

“She always served long and kept playing the same way; I was able follow my service with a strong first attack. She is more powerful than me, so it was difficult to block, she played very strongly.” Elena Zaharia

Crystal Wang duly gained second position in the group and thus progressed to the main draw; she overcame Stanislavsa Slezakova infour straight games (11-7, 11-4, 11-3, 11-4). Alas for Stanislava Slezakova it was the end of the road.

World Junior Championships 2017 World Junior Championships Elena Zaharia

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Day 8 - 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships