31 May 2021

Belarus will have two players contesting the Under-19 Girls’ Singles knock-out draw at WTT Youth Star Contender Tunis 2021 with Vera Volkava and Darya Kisel both progressing from the group stage on the penultimate day of action at the Salle Omnisport de Radès.

by Simon Daish

Volkava’s progression is an uplifting achievement given that all three of her group rivals ranked higher in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Rankings.

Ranked 285th, Volkava proved unlucky in her opening encounter as she narrowly lost out to Croatia’s Hana Arapovic (9-11, 12-10, 12-10, 4-11, 11-5) but her fortunes improved soon after, rising above Portugal’s Matilde Pinto (11-9, 13-11, 6-11, 11-6) and Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci (11-3, 11-2, 11-7), world ranked 40th, to advance as Group 8 runner-up.

Joining Volkava in the main draw, compatriot Darya Kisel emerged victorious in two of her three group fixtures with Slovakia’s Renata Lacenova (12-10, 11-4, 11-7) and Turkey’s Zeynep Karaca (11-6, 11-8, 12-10) on the receiving end of the Belarusian’s wrath. Elsewhere, Dora Cosic also caught the eye as the Croatian ranked 198th in the world edged past Wales’ Anna Hursey (12-10, 11-8, 6-11, 9-11, 11-5), ranked 57th, in a pivotal winner takes all affair in Group 5.

As the leading figure in the African continent’s push for title success in Tunis, Hana Goda enjoyed the perfect start to her Under-15 Girls’ Singles campaign. World ranked 2nd in the age bracket, Egypt’s Goda was simply a class above her two group opponents with Tunisia’s Ela Saidi (11-5, 11-3, 11-4) and Turkey’s Nihat Nebhan (11-3, 13-11, 11-2) falling in straight games.

Disappointed to have missed out in the Under-19 category, Anna Hursey couldn’t have asked for a better outcome from her group efforts in the Under-15 event pulling convincing victories out of the bag against Algeria’s Madina Seddiki (11-1, 11-1, 11-5) and the host nation’s Estabrek Ounayes (11-2, 11-9, 11-2) to top Group 2.

There were dramatic scenes in the group directly below as Russia’s Viktoriia Shirokova, currently unranked on the global stage, accounted for the world number 17 from Slovakia, Dominika Wiltschkova (7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7), and Turkey’s Ezel Arslan (11-5, 11-6, 10-12, 11-5). Two important results for Shirokova, who deservedly takes her place in the round of 16.

The Under-15 Girls’ Doubles draw has been whittled down to the final four pairs – Shirokova and partner Zlata Terekhova occupy one of the spots after successfully fighting back from behind to defeat Turkey’s Nihat Nebhan and Portugal’s Mariana Santa Comba 3-2 (12-10, 8-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5). Croatia’s Zrinka Rebic and Slovakia’s Dominika Wiltschkova await the Russians at the penultimate hurdle.

India’s Diya Parag Chitale and Swastika Ghosh are through to the semi-finals of the Under-19 Girls’ Doubles off the back of a 3-1 victory against Tunisia’s Fadwa Garci and Maram Zoghlami (11-5, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8). The result keeps Asian hopes alive with the three remaining places awarded to European combinations.

Down to the final day, destiny awaits in the four girls’ events this Sunday. Who will leave Tunis as champions?

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