27 May 2021

16-year-old Ugurcan Dursun of Turkey was amongst the list of star performers on a captivating opening day at the first-ever WTT Youth Star Contender event in Tunis, Tunisia, defying expectations to qualify from the Under-19 Boys’ Singles group stage.

by Simon Daish

The lowest-ranked player in his group at 519th in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Rankings, Turkey’s Dursun accounted for world number 73 Deepit Patil 3-1 (11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8) before backing it up with victory over the host nation’s Youssef Ben Attia, ranked 165th (11-7, 14-12, 4-11, 11-7).

Another inspiring performance came courtesy of Gabrielius Camara with the Dutch competitor producing some exceptional table tennis on the opening day in Tunis. Ranked 198th, Camara toppled world number 21 Filip Delincak of Slovakia (3-11, 11-3, 11-6, 10-12, 11-7) before 3-0 successes against Latvia’s Daniels Kogans and Portugal’s Goncalo Gomes.

Key names in the title race, Croatia’s Ivor Ban and Germany’s Kay Stumper are safely through to the round of 16, as is Belgium’s Adrien Rassenfosse, although it wasn’t all plain sailing for the latter player who required a late comeback push in his opening match against Portugal’s Tiago Li (6-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6, 11-6).

There were surprise scenes in Group 1 of the Under-15 Boys’ Singles event with India’s Preyesh Suresh Raj, ranked 7th in the Youth Rankings, limited to a runner-up finish behind world number 106 Aleksei Samokhin. The young Russian opened his account with a convincing 3-0 win over group favourite Suresh Raj (14-12, 11-6, 12-10) before condemning Tunisia’s Chadi Hsayri and Nigeria’s Musa Mustapha to defeat by the same margin.

Samokhin won’t be alone in leading Russia’s knock-out stage charge with Ilia Koniukhov and Roman Vinogradov also qualifying from their respective groups. The second-highest ranked player in Group 7, Koniukhov caught the eye with his straight games’ success against Sweden’s Isak Alfredsson (11-8, 11-5, 13-11) and Vinogradov’s day was just as impressive, dropping only one game in opposition to another Swede, Elias Sjogren (8-11, 12-10, 11-5, 11-9).

Elsewhere, world number 9 David Bjorkryd of Sweden will be delighted with his day’s work, coming away with three perfect 3-0 victories to advance from Group 2. Meanwhile, Belgium’s Tom Closset held off Slovakian counterpart Samuel Arpas in a dramatic full distance affair (11-9, 13-11, 8-11, 7-11, 11-5) to top his group.

Making a strong start on the individual front, David Bjorkryd also has one eye focused on Under-15 Boys’ Doubles glory after successfully combining with Elias Sjogren to beat fellow Swede Isak Alfredsson and Russian partner Aleksei Samokhin (11-4, 11-9, 10-12, 11-5) to a place in the semi-finals. The story of the day’s Under-19 Boys’ Doubles action centred around the quarter-final exit of Belgium’s Nicolas Degros and Croatia’s Ivor Ban, who unexpectedly fell to Portuguese rivals Goncalo Gomes and Tiago Li across five games (11-4, 11-4, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8).

An exciting start to play in Tunis, join us again on Thursday as all four boys’ events are decided.

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