16 Mar 2018

Gold for the host nation, to the delight of the home supporters, Marek Badowski won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Polish Open in Spa on the early afternoon of Friday 16th March.

The no.5 seed, at the final hurdle he caused somewhat of an upset, he beat Austria’s Andreas Levenko, the no.2 seed (11-5, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Meanwhile, in the counterpart Under 21 Women’s Singles event, it was success for Korea’s Kim Jiho; not seeded she accounted for Russia’s Mariia Tailakova, the no.6 seed at the final hurdle in a most convincing fashion. She won in three straight games (11-4, 11-6, 11-4).

Thus for Mariia Tailakova she fell one stop short of repeating the success of six days earlier when she had emerged victorious at the 2018 Belgosstrakh European Under 21 Championships in Minsk.

The win for Marek Badowski means that he follows in the footsteps of colleagues Jacob Kosowski, Bartosz Such and Jakub Dyjas. All won ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles titles; like Marek Badowski, Jacob Kosowski won in Poland in 2002 when the tournament was staged in Warsaw. The following year Bartosz Such succeeded in Germany, before more recently in 2015 Jacob Dyjas struck gold in Croatia.

Success for Marek Badowski in what has been a busy few days for the 20 year old; like Mariia Tailakova, he was on duty at last week’s 2018 Belgosstrakh European Under 21 Championships in Minsk; he reached the third stage losing to Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic.

“In the past two years, the Andreas Levenko has made very good progress, he trains a lot. He tries to keep the ball on the table and play near the table; that suited me. I am pleased with the victory! I am very tired but the outcome was better than in Belarus. There were a lot of matches in Minsk, all best of seven games. Here I was motivated, ready to fight. I still need to achieve good results against senior players and young Asian players, they play faster, a style that does not suit me at all. Against the Europeans who are better than me I am able to make a fight, I can play against them.” Marek Badowski

A first for Marek Badowski and a first Under 21 ITTF Challenge Series title for Kim Jiho; she becomes the first Korean player to win such a title since the ITTF Challenge Series has been separate from the ITTF World Tour. Last year in Croatia, Ji Eunchae came close; she was beaten in the final by Romania’s Adina Diaconu.

Overall, taking into account ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series, Kim Jiho is the 15th Korean to win an Under 21 Women’s Singles title but if she is to equal the best, she needs to press the accelerator pedal.

Yang Haeun won nine times between the 2009 in Korea and 2014 in Kuwait; alongside Singapore’s Yu Mengyu she is the second on the all-time list; Japan’s Kasaumi Ishikawa with 10 wins leads the order.

Kim Jiho, the somewhat surprise Underr 21 Women’s Singles champion (Photo: Bogdan Pasek)
Challenge Series 2018 Polish Open Marek Badowski Kim Jiho

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