11 Mar 2018

Required to compete in the first stage of proceedings, not listed amongst the top eight names who received direct entries to the second phase, Russia’s Anastasia Kolish and Valeria Shcherbatykh emerged as the surprise semi-finalists in the Women’s Singles event at the 2018 Belgosstrakh European Under 21 Championships in Minsk, Belarus.

On the penultimate day of play, the outstanding form continued.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

In the opening round of the third stage of play, matters organised on the knock-out principle, Anastasia Kolish beat Italy’s Jamila Laurenti (11-4, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4) before accounting for Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn (11-9, 11-5, 12-10, 4-11, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8).

Similarly, focused on the task in hand, Valeria Shcherbatykh overcame Belgium’s Lisa Lung (11-7, 11-9, 11-4, 11-7) prior to ending the hopes of the host nation’s Alina Nikitchanka, the no.3 seed (11-3, 11-8, 11-2, 10-12, 11-1). A notable win in opposition to Alina Nikitchanka, a player in form, in the opening round she had beaten Romania’s Adina Diaconu, the no.2 seed (8-11, 13-11, 7-11, 118, 11-4, 11-5).

“I had prepared well before this match. The hardest thing was to maintain focus throughout the match, because my usual problem is that I lose concentration. Lisa Lung is a serious rival, and I wasn’t really sure about the result of the encounter. What’s more, I lost to her twice in the past.” Valeria Shcherbatykh following the win over Lisa Lung

Defeat for Belarus at Russian hands and not for the first time in the tournament; in the second group stage Anastasia Kolish had also beaten Alina Nikitchanka (3-11, 8-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-3, 11-7); Valeria Shcherbatykh had overcome Nadezhda Bogdanova, the no.5 seed (11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-9).

Impressive performances from Anastasia Kolish and Valeria Shcherbatykh; it was the same from their compatriot, Mariia Tailakova, the no.8 seed; after recording an opening round win in opposition to Slovakia’s Tatiana Kukulova (11-3, 8-8, 11-4, 11-6, 16-14) she accounted for Germany’s Wan Yuan, the top seed (7-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5, 11-4, 11-7) to reserve her last four place.

“The last time we played was three years ago as cadets. I beat her in five games just like today. Her game has not changed a lot. I knew that she had a passive approach and that I had to attack first.” Mariia Tailakova after overcoming Tatiana Kukulova

Three Russians through to the semi-finals and against the odds; it is the same for the same further name. Poland’s Naralia Bajor, the no.7 seed, duly progressed. After adding to Romania pain by beating Andreea Dragoman (11-6, 13-11, 11-13, 11-4, 11-9), she ended the hopes of Turkey’s Ozge Yilmaz (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 14-16, 12-14, 11-7). Notably, in the opening round, Ozge Yilmaz had beaten Daria Trigolos of Belarus, the no.4 seed (9-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8, 8-11, 13-11).

“It was our first encounter and I am very happy with the level of the game I produced. I kept Andreea close to the table by playing short, I was better in the backhand exchange of the rallies.”, Natalia Bajor after beating Andreea Dragoman

At the semi-final stage Mariia Tailakova plays Anastasia Kolish, Natalia Bajor opposes Valeria Shcherbatykh; proceedings conclude in Minsk on Sunday 11th March.

Belgosstrakh 2018 Europe Under 21 Anastasia Kolish Valeria Shcherbatykh

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