05 Mar 2020

Winner in early February when he retained his ITTF World Junior Circuit title in the Czech Republic; Poland’s Samuel Kulczycki was very much the name to note on the opening day of play, Wednesday 4th March, at the 2020 European Under 21 Championships in Varazdin.

Against the odds and by the very narrowest of margins, the 17 year old finished in first place in his initial stage men's singles group.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A competition in which the top eight players in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events gained a direct entry to the second stage, in his opening contest Samuel Kuczycki accounted for Germany’s Gerritt Engemann, the third highest rated player on initial phase duty.

Significantly the Polish teenager prevailed in six games (8-11, 11-9, 2-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8) but then in his concluding contest for the day, he was beaten in seven games by Slovakia’s Jakub Zelinka (8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8), the player who in his opening contest had experienced a six games reverse at the hands of Gerritt Engemann (8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-8, 11-8).

Thus games ratio determined the outcome. It was first place for Samuel Kulczycki (7:6) followed by Gerritt Engemann (6:6) with Jakub Zelinka in third position (6:7).

Players finishing in first and second position progress to the second group phase, the stage at which the top eight names enter the competition; alas for Jakub Zelinka it is the end of the road.

First place for Tobias Hippler (Photo: Martin Novosel)


Problems for Gerritt Engemann, it was the same for Frenchman Leo de Nodrest, he had to settle for second place in his group behind Hungary’s Csaba Andras. However, for the remaining leading names on first stage duty it was success. Germany’s Tobias Hippler, Russia’s Artur Abusev and Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece secured top spots, as did Frenchman Irvin Bertrand, Spain’s Joan Masip and Germany’s Cedric Meissner.


Likewise in the first stage if the women’s singles event there were also surprises. Prithika Pavade of France, the leading name on initial phase duty, remained unbeaten; however, for the next in order there were defeats, runners up spot the outcome.

Solomiya Brateyko secured a surprise group first place (Photo: Martin Novosel)


Similarly, it was defeat and second place for Hungary’s Orsolya Feher, she experienced a reverse at the hands of Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn (11-7, 11-6, 11-6, 11-4).

Runners up spot and progress but not for Slovakia’s Nikoleta Puchovanova; the fifth highest listed on first day duty, she had to settle for third place in her group behind Turkey’s Olga Yilmaz and the Czech Republic’s Gabriela Stepanova.

Notably, Solomiya Brateyko, Sophia Klee, Olga Vishniakova and Anna Wegrzyn all remained unbeaten to top their groups. Meanwhile, as expected amongst the leading names it was first place for Croatia’s Andrea Pavlovic and Russia’s Kristina Kazantseva.

Group first place for Anna Wegrzyn (Photo: Martin Novosel)


The second group stage now follows.

2020 European Under 21 Championships Samuel Kulczycki

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