11 Mar 2018

Gold and silver, on the concluding day of play, Sunday 11th March, Russia dominated proceedings in the Women’s Singles event at the 2018 Belgosstrakh European Under 21 Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

Maria Tailakova secured the top step of the podium, her colleague Valeria Shcherbatykh just one step below, whilst alongside Poland’s Natalia Bajor, Anastasia Kolish finished in the bronze medal position

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

At the final hurdle Maria Tailakova accounted for Valeria Shcherbatykh (11-3, 11-7, 11-4. 11-8), having at the semi-final stage ousted a further Russian colleague in the guise of Anastasia Kolish (11-1, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-9).

“Usually, I am nervous when playing against the girls from my team but the situation was different today. In this final game against Shcherbatykh, I was calm and steady, unlike when I opposed Kolish in the previous match. Moreover, we played without a coach, so I had to take my own decisions. It’s the first time that I’ve made it to a final and won. I’ve never got farther than semi-finals before.” Mariia Tailakova

In the opposite half of the draw in the penultimate round Valeria Shcherbatykh had beaten Poland’s Natalia Bajor (11-6, 11-9. 11-9, 9-11, 3-11, 16-14).

Defeat at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event for Natalia Bajor; in the Women’s Doubles competition it was gold, she partnered Ukraine’s Solomiya Bratenko to claim the top prize.

Impressively, in the final they beat Belgium’s Lisa Lung and Margo Degraef (11-8, 11-9, 11-6), after in the semi-final round having ousted Spain’s Zhang Xuan and Anna Garcia (13-11, 11-7, 2-11, 8-11, 12-10).

“It is the first time that we have played together. It was very scary for us to play in the final but I’m so happy now. I have never before won such at title; all the effort we made was worthwhile. The semi-final was a long tough match. We played against one of the strongest pairings of the whole tournament. I believed that we could win, we supported each other well. Maybe we’ll do even better next year.” Solomiya Bratenko

Meanwhile, in the adjacent penultimate round contest, Zhang Xuan and Anna Garcia had ended the hopes of Romania’s Adina Diaconu and Andreea Dragoman (5-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-3, 11-8).

2018 Latin American Senior Championships MariiaTailakova

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