26 Oct 2019

Proceedings concluded in the initial phase of the boys’ team and girls’ team events at the 2019 ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Wladyslawowo on Saturday 26th October, it was the Hopes outfits that emerged the centre of attention.

Contrary to expectations, both selections remained unbeaten, thus ending the day in group first places and safely through to the main draw.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

It was the girls who caused the bigger surprise, starting play as the no.5 seeds, selecting from Emily Tan, Sophie Earley, Ser Lin Qian and Lee Xin Ni, against the odds they finished ahead of Europe, the no.2 seeds and Latin America, the no.4 seeds.

Acclimatising quickly to the situation, in their opening fixture of the day they recorded a 3-2 win against the European combination of Hana Arapovic, Vlada Voronina and Elena Zaharia. The player to shine was Sophie Earley.

Mainstay of victory

After Ser Lin Qian had experienced defeat at the hands of Vlada Voronina (11-7, 11-8, 11-8), she beat Elena Zaharia, the winner of the cadet girls’ singles title at this year’s European Youth Championships (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 14-12), before returning to overcome Vlada Voronina in the vital fifth and deciding match of the contest (11-6, 2-11, 11-6, 11-9).

“I was quite nervous before match with Elena Zaharia, I felt I could give her a match, the last time we played she was better than me and I lost. I felt I really had nothing to lose, just try to play my best. After the match with Elena Zaharia I felt more confident. Before the match with Vlada Voronina, I was a little bit nervous because it was the last match, but I still managed to win.” Sophie Earley

The one further win for the Hopes team was secured by Ser Lin Qian; following defeat for Lee Xin Ni at the hands of Hana Arapovic (11-6, 11-4, 11-2), in the fourth match of the contest she kept her team’s aspirations alive. She recovered from a two games to nil deficit and the precipice of defeat in the third to beat Elena Zaharia (9-11, 6-11, 20-18, 11-8, 11-7).

Success against Europe, with Emily Tan preferred to Lee Xin Ni, a 4-1 win was recorded against North America’s Fiona Nie, Joanna Sung and Angie Tan prior to the same margin of victory being claimed against the Latin American selection of Arantxa Cossio Aceves, Divina Ding and Giulia Takahashi; a contest in which Lee Xin Ni replaced Emily Tan.

Host nation springs surprise

In the counterpart group, the no.2 seeds, Asia, who selected from Kaho Akae, Yashaswini Ghorpade, Lee Yeonhui and Zhou Jingyi, duly remained unbeaten to top their group as anticipated.

However, there was a surprise. Represented by Anna Brzyska, Ilona Sztwiertnia and Wiktoria Wrobel, Poland, the no.6 seeds, secured runners up spot. They recorded a 3-2 win in opposition to the no.3 seeds, the African trio comprising Melissa Belache, Hana Goda and Maram Zoghlami. Notably for Africa, Hana Goda remained unbeaten; she accounted for both Anna Brzyska (11-13, 11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6) and Wiktoria Wrobel (11-9, 11-3, 11-5).

At the semi-final stage of the girls’ team event, the Hopes meet Poland; Europe who suffered no further moments of alarm, face Asia.

Progress expected, first place unexpected

A place in the last four for the Hopes girls’ team was a surprise, for their male counterparts, not a surprise; they commenced matters the no.3 seed. The surprise was selecting from Julian Chirita, Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran, Daniel Berzosa and Izaac Quek Yong, they remained unbeaten to secure group first place.

Following a 4-1 win against the no.8 seeds, North America’s Ted Li, Sid Naresh and Simeon Martin; selecting Iulian Chirita, Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran and Izaac Quek Yong, success by the same margin was recorded in opposition to the no.2 seeds, the European combination of Darius Movileanu, Louis Laffineur and Simon Belik.

Man of the moment was Iulian Chirita, he beat both Louis Laffineur (10-12, 12-10, 11-7, 11-6) and Darius Movileanu (13-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5) to seal the success. Vitally in the opening match of the fixture Izaac Quek Yong had also accounted for Darius Movileanu (13-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9).

Significantly for the European team, it was their only defeat; thus second place and progress to the main draw was secured.

Again Poland rises to challenge

Meanwhile, in the corresponding group, Asia, the top seeds, selecting from Sora Matsushima, Navid Shams, Jeong Seongil and Payas Jain duly secured first position in their group but, as in the girls’ team event there was a surprise second place.

Once again the host nation shone; the no.6 seeds, selecting Mateusz Zalewski, Milosz Redzimski and Dawid Jadam, a 4-1 margin of victory was recorded against the no.4 seeds, the Latin America trio of Carlos Fernandez, Angel Naranjo and Sim Joon to secure runners up spot.

In the penultimate round Asia faces Europe, the Hopes meet Poland; the team events conclude on Sunday 27th October.

2019 World Cadet Challenge Sophie Earley

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Day 5 - 2019 ITTF World Cadet Challenge