by Simon Daish
Ranked 279th in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Ranking, Magdieva completely shattered expectations in the Under-19 Girls’ Singles event, experiencing all the emotions in the book along the way.
Suffering an early setback with defeat in her opening group match the previous day, Magdieva couldn’t have asked for a better start to the main draw, negotiating Spain’s Eugenia Sastre (12-10, 11-9, 8-11, 11-7) and Belgium’s Sara Devos (11-8, 11-4, 12-10) with little difficulty. Magdieva was then forced to dig deep in her quarter-final affair with Romania’s Ioana Singeorzan (11-9, 5-11, 5-11, 17-15, 11-7), before securing her ticket to the final with victory over Hungarian opponent Dorottya Tolgyes (11-8, 7-11, 11-2, 11-6).
One final player stood between Magdieva and the ultimate prize, Germany’s Naomi Pranjkovic. With 144 positions separating the two in the Youth Rankings, Pranjkovic, ranked 135th, felt confident having defeated world number 24 Elena Zaharia in the semi-finals. However, another inspirational effort from Magdieva saw the Uzbek outclass Pranjkovic by a convincing 3-0 score-line (11-9, 14-12, 11-5), letting out a loud roar following the final point.
“Today was a very unexpected day. I’m very happy with the victory in this tournament. I want to take the opportunity to show gratitude towards my parents, my coaches and my teammates. It was an amazing experience to play this tournament and I’m looking forward to playing again in the WTT Youth Series events.” Markhabo Magdieva
Devastation for one German competitor, but another proved unstoppable in the Under-15 category as Annett Kaufmann struck title glory on the closing day in Vila Real, dropping just a single game over the course of Monday’s action!
Powering past Spain’s Mariona Munne in straight games (11-9, 11-3, 11-3), Kaufmann required just the three in her quarter-final meeting with Slovenia’s Sara Tokic (12-10, 11-2, 11-6). Matilde Pinto was the only player able to lay a finger on Kaufmann, but even the Portuguese hopeful couldn’t keep pace for long (7-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-9).
Providing the opposition for Kaufmann at the final hurdle was Bianca Mei Rosu, ranked 21st in the Youth Rankings, who secured her place in the title match following a fine win over recently crowned Under-17 champion Anna Hursey of Wales (12-10, 6-11, 11-3, 4-11, 11-8). A brave attempt, but Mei Rosu would ultimately fall short to world number 10 Kaufmann, who was simply one step ahead of the curve from start to finish (11-7, 11-5, 11-4).
“I played better in the Under-15 event, reaching the final against Bianca Mei Rosu. I believe I played very well because I know her, so it was a different final to play and I’m very happy that I’ve won… It is really good that we are now starting to get so many tournaments because I love table tennis and if I can’t play, I feel that something is missing.” Annett Kaufmann
The first-ever stop on the WTT Youth Series has more than lived up to the hype and it won’t be long before the action returns with Tunis, Tunisia welcoming the sport’s up-and-coming stars for the inaugural WTT Youth Star Contender event from Wednesday 26th to Sunday 30th May.