12 Jun 2021

Just 14 years of age, France’s Felix Lebrun is lighting up the Under-17 Boys’ Singles stage at WTT Youth Contender Havirov with a striking performance on the fourth day of play.

by Simon Daish

Lebrun ranked 56th in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Rankings, achieved his first goal of progressing from the group stage with little difficulty, and couldn’t have asked for a better start to the knock-out rounds as he outclassed Belarus’ Hleb Behunou 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-4). However, Lebrun’s standout moment arrived in the closing stages of the day as he recovered from 1-2 down to beat Czech Republic’s Simon Belik, world number 14, by a stunning 3-2 score-line (11-3, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-8).

“I’m very happy after this difficult game! When it was 2:2 (on games) and 5:7 I played two really good balls, which gave me confidence. The aim is to win (the tournament), but it will be really difficult. I will work for it step by step.” Felix Lebrun

In the opposite half of the draw, Croatia’s Borna Petek fought back from a two-game deficit to defeat Israel’s Uri Almor (2-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-6). Petek then went on to secure his quarter-final ticket with a 3-1 win over France’s Alexis Kouraichi (13-11, 11-9, 2-11, 11-9).

Sheer determination from Borna Petek

The host nation’s Ondrej Kveton is also through to the last eight with the Czech claiming 3-0 victories across the board. Kveton rounded off the day in style, producing a commanding display in his round of 16 encounter with Hungarian counterpart David Szantosi (11-9, 11-9, 11-9).

“I am super happy! This was my aim today, to advance to the quarter-finals. Tomorrow I’ll definitely fight for a medal. The whole Czech team supported me on my way to the quarter-finals, which really helped me.” Ondrej Kveton

Botond Zoltan Varga of Hungary recovered from a less than ideal start to life in the Under-13 Boys’ Singles draw to keep his title ambitions alive.

World number 23 Varga was stunned in his opening contest of the day by Austria’s Petr Hodina (6-11, 12-10, 10-12, 12-10, 11-4), currently without a world ranking. However, Varga would still progress to the knock-out stage, and he didn’t disappoint, inflicting a 3-0 defeat on Hodina’s compatriot Benjamin Girlinger (11-3, 11-5, 12-10) before seeing off Ukraine’s Nazarii Solodkyi in the last eight (11-7, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7).

Varga will meet his third Austrian opponent of the tournament in a semi-final showdown after Julian Rzihauschek, ranked 21st in the Youth Rankings, enjoyed an unbeaten opening to his campaign. 12-year-old Rzihauschek prevailed in all three group stage encounters, the pick of which was a five-game thriller against France’s Luca Daniel Stefan Trascu (4-11, 12-10, 11-7, 10-12, 11-9). Following up with a straight games victory over Czech Republic’s Jan Skalda (11-8, 11-5, 11-7), Rzihauschek is now just two wins away from glory in Havirov!

The ranked favourite in the category, France’s Flavien Coton emerged from his day’s fixtures with ease, powering through the group hurdle spotlessly before replicating the feat in his quarter-final meeting with Germany’s Noah Hersel (11-7, 11-6, 11-8). World number 2 Coton takes on Damian Floro in the penultimate round after the Slovakian, world-ranked 41st, accounted for Petr Hodina 3-1 (11-8, 11-9, 9-11, 11-4).

Play resumes on Saturday with competition commencing in the Under-11, Under-15 and Under-19 Boys’ Singles events, while the fate of the Under-13 and Under-17 champions will also be determined.

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