07 Mar 2019

Winner one year ago in the Belarus capital city of Minsk, Russia’s Mariia Tailakova defends her title at the Butterfly 2019 Under 21 European Championships in Gondomar, Portugal; play commencing with stage one on Thursday 7th March.

However, the 17 year old, who competed in last year’s Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, is not the women's singles top seed; that honour belongs to colleague Valeria Shcherbatykh, the player beat in the final in Minsk to claim gold.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Mariia Tailakova is the no.3 seed, one place behind Belgium’s Lisa Lung; no doubt a strong challenger for honours but could the greater challenge emanate from two players who must compete in the initial group phase.

Romania’s Adina Diaconu and Andreea Dragoman both appear on the Gondomar entry list. Significantly one month ago at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open in Lisbon, in the under 21 women’s singles event, in the third round Andreea Dragoman accounted for Mariia Tailakova, one round later at the quarter-final stage, Adina Diaconu ousted Valeria Shcherbatykh. Impressively, Adina Diaconu progressed to the final where China’s Fan Siqi ended title hopes.

Meanwhile, for Lisa Lung it was not the best of news; she was beaten in her opening contest by Chinese Taipei’s Tsai Yu-Chien.

A strong challenge for honours from both Russia and Romania, it is the same from France, Audrey Zarif and Marie Migot are next in line to Mariia Tailakova; Daria Trigolos followed by Spain’s Zhang Xuan and Slovakia’s Tatiana Kukulkova complete the top eight names.

In Lisbon, in the under 21 women’s singles event, Tatiana Kukulkova and Daria Trigolos both lost to Fan Siqi, the former in the second round, the latter one round later. Likewise in the third round Zhang Xuan suffered against Adina Diaconu, as did Marie Migot when facing China’s Wu Yangshen.

The top eight names are not required to compete in the first stage; they commence matters in stage two. They join the 24 qualifiers in a phase which comprises eight groups, each with three players; players finishing in first and second places in the second stage qualify for the main draw.

2019 Butterfly Europe Under 21 Championships Mariia Tailakova

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