by Ian Marshall
Former winners of the cadet boys’ singles title at the European Youth Championships, Romania’s Rares Sipos in 2014 in Riva del Garda and Russia Vladimir Sidorenko, somewhat significantly in 2017 in Guimarães, caused major upsets. They halted the progress of the leading names.
Rares Sipos, the no.20 seed, secured a second round win against Austria’s Daniel Habesohn, the top seed (11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-6, 11-8), before recording a quarter-final success in opposition to Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen, the no.26 seed (11-4, 13-11, 11-7, 11-6).
Relishing the occasion, it was the same for Vladimir Sidorenko, the no.23 seed. He beat Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej, the no.9 seed (11-3, 11-9, 14-12, 11-6), before ending the progress of the Czech Republic’s Pavel Sirucek, the no.2 seed (6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9).
Progress against the odds, arguably even more so for Rares Sipos. He had finished in second place in his initial stage group; a scenario that also applied to Spain’s Alvaro Robles, the no.7 seed, who prevailed in a titanic contest against Panagiotis Gionis of Greece, the no.3 seed (2-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 12-10, 11-6), before overcoming Great Britain’s Paul Drinkhall, the no.5 seed (11-7, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9, 11-7).
Tense affairs, amidst the storm, Kou Lei progressed in serene style; on his way to the semi-final he did not surrender a single game. He beat Belgium’s Cédric Nuytinck, the no.10 seed (14-12, 11-8, 11-8, 14-12), before overcoming Poland’s Samuel Kulczycki, the no.32 seed (11-9, 11-5, 15-13).
At the semi-final stage Rares Sipos faces Kou Lei, Alvaro Robles confronts Vladimir Sidorenko.
Unexpected semi-finalists, courtesy of France it was the same in the women’s singles – Prithika Pavade, the no.34 seed and Yuan Jia Nan, the no.9 seed emerged the surprise names. Like Rares Sipos and Vladimir Sidorenko they ousted the most prominent names.
Teenager Prithika Pavade continued her quite incredible run of form: in the second round she beat the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the top seed (7-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-7, 7-11, 11-9), before ousting Ukraine’s Solomiya Brateyko (11-5, 11-7, 4-11, 11-5, 11-7).
Success in the second round for Pavade against a most prominent name; it was the same for Yuan Jia Nan. She accounted for Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova, the no.2 seed (18-16, 10-12, 11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-9), prior to recording a quarter-final success in opposition to Spain’s Maria Xiao, the no.6 seed (16-14, 11-6, 11-7, 11-5).
Unexpected semi-finalists, there were almost two more! Both Yana Noskova and Portugal’s Shao Jieni needed the full seven games to book their penultimate round places.
Yana Noskova, the no.3 seed, after accounting for Daria Trigolos of Belarus, listed at no.13 in the order of merit (11-8, 11-7, 11-7, 11-6), experienced trying times when facing Sweden’s Christina Källberg, the no.26 seed (11-7, 12-14, 11-6, 11-3, 6-11, 8-11, 11-4).
Even more trying, Shao Jieni, the no.4 seed, almost came to grief against Great Britain’s Charlotte Carey, the no.25 seed, prevailing by the very narrowest of margins (11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 12-10, 9-11, 7-11, 13-11).
In the round of the last four, Prithika Pavade meets Yana Noskova, Yuan Jia Nan confronts Shao Jieni.
The winners of the semi-final matches, in each of the men’s singles and women’s singles events, qualify for Tokyo 2020; the finals will not be played.