by Simon Daish
Proving to be an unstoppable force for her team in the lead up to the title match Ning Jing was just as impressive in the final itself, putting Azerbaijan ahead thanks to a four games victory over Anastasia Kolish (2-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-6). Searching for a quick response Russia turned to Mariia Tailakova to produce a win, a goal which she narrowly achieved with Chen Xingtai giving her a good run for her money (11-13, 12-10, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7).
It then looked as though Russia had successfully turned the tide as Kristina Kazantseva put her country 2-1 in front with a straight games win against Zhou Chuyi (12-10, 11-7, 12-10), but all of a sudden the match was turned on its head as Azerbaijan fought back.
Picking up her second victory of the tie, Ning Jing negotiated the fourth fixture of the evening against Mariia Tailakova without dropping a game (11-7, 13-11, 11-8) before Chen Xingtai pulled off a dramatic recovery from two games to one down to beat Anastasia Kolish (11-8, 4-11, 7-11, 12-10, 11-6).
This is the first time that the Junior Girls’ Team trophy has been awarded to Azerbaijan and comes a year after Ning Jing became the country’s first representative to win the Junior Girls’ Singles gold medal at the tournament. Mikhail Timofeyev, who coached the Azerbaijan team to success in Cluj-Napoca, stated that the final outcome was never in doubt.
“The success did not come as a surprise for us, we were ready. The girls had a lot of training in China, although we knew it would not be easy. Romania and Russia were very strong here and we study their game well.” Mikhail Timofeyev
In the bronze medal match the honour of a spot on the medals podium went to Romania with the team of Andreea Dragoman, Tania Plaian and Andreea Hudusan finishing ahead of France with a 3-1 victory.