by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Iulian Chirita partnered colleague Dragan Florin Bujor to success in both the Cadet Boys’ Team and Cadet Boys’ Doubles events, whilst joining forces with Elena Zaharia to gain Cadet Mixed Doubles success. Most impressively, he ended the tournament by being crowned Cadet Boys’ Singles champion.
At the final hurdle of the Cadet Boys’ Team event, a three-nil win was recorded against Turkey’s Yucel Ocak and Ozgur Yilmaz. Dragos Florin Bujor gave his team the perfect start. He beat Yucel Ocak (11-9, 11-7, 4-11, 12-10) before Iulian Chirita overcame Ozgur Yilmaz (11-9, 11-8, 11-6) and a doubles win ended matters (11-9, 11-8, 11-6).
Success against Yucel Ocak and Ozgur Yilmaz, later it was the same outcome in the Cadet Boys’ Doubles final (6-11, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8), before Mixed Doubles success was secured against colleagues Dragos Florin Bujor and Camelia Mitrofan (10-12, 11-5, 11-2, 11-8).
Success upon success, matters concluded with the Cadet Boys’ Singles top prize being won. Iulian Chirita beat Dragos Florin Bujor (11-8, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-8) at the final hurdle, having in the penultimate round accounted for Slovenia’s Mitja Omerzel (12-14, 11-4, 8-11, 11-7, 11-1, 11-4). In the counterpart semi-final Dragos Florin Bujor had ended the hopes of Turkey’s Ozgur Yilmaz (11-4, 6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-4).
It was a very similar story for Elena Zaharia.
Additional to Mixed Doubles gold she paired with Camelia Mitrofan the secure Cadet Girls’ Team and Cadet Girls’ Doubles gold. In the final of the Cadet Girls’ Team competition, the duo recorded a three-one success in opposition to Moldova’s Natalia Brinza and Vitalina Brinza.
Wins for Elena Zaharia against Vitalina Brinza (11-5, 11-7, 8-11, 11-3) and then in opposition to Natalia Brinza (9-11, 11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-3) in addition to a doubles win sandwiched in between (11-8, 11-9, 3-11, 11-6) ensured victory. The one win for Moldova was gained by Natalia Brinza, in the second match of the fixture, she beat Camelia Mitrofan (6-11, 12-10, 19-17, 13-11).
Victory against Moldova in the Cadet Girls’ Team final was followed by success in opposition to Serbia in the Cadet Girls’ Doubles gold medal contest; the duo accounted for the partnership of Reka Bezeg and Radmila Tominjak (11-6, 11-9, 11-6).
Impressively Elena Zaharia duly concluded her visit to Zenica on the top step of the Cadet Girls’ Singles podium; after accounting for Reka Bezeg (11-5, 11-7, 11-2, 11-7), she beat Radmila Tominjak (11-4, 11-4, 11-9, 11-4) to clinch the title. In the opposite half of the draw, Radmila Tominjak had prevailed against Natalina Brinza (11-3, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-8) to reserve her place in the final.
Overall in the cadet events, eleven national associations participated: Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo, Moldova, Montenegro, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia and Turkey.
26th Balkan Youth Championships 2018: Roll of Honour & Complete Results