13 Jun 2021

Julian Rzihauschek has become the first Austrian player to reach the summit of a WTT Youth Series podium following a captivating finale to his quest for Under-13 Boys’ Singles glory at WTT Youth Contender Havirov.

by Simon Daish

Down to the final four challengers heading into the day, Rzihauschek sailed through his semi-final encounter with Hungarian opponent Botond Zoltan Varga on the receiving end of a punishing 3-0 outcome (11-8, 11-7, 11-3). Rzihauschek ranked 21st in the ITTF Youth Rankings, had the title within his reach and he embraced the opportunity with both hands, prevailing over French rival Flavien Coton, ranked 2nd, in a five-game epic (11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-7).

“It’s unbelievable! I’m really happy that I managed to win. I fought every match step by step and it finished well.” Julian Rzihauschek

The star of the show on Friday, Felix Lebrun was back amongst the headlines again on Saturday as the 14-year-old from France took home his first WTT title in the Under-17 Boys’ Singles tournament.

Lebrun ranked 56th in the world for the age category, came out on top against three of Romania’s finest on his way to victory. Registering staggering results against world number 11 Iulian Chirita (11-6, 11-3, 14-12) and world number 2 Darius Movileanu (11-8, 3-11, 11-6, 11-7), both title winners last month in Vila Real, Lebrun wrote his name down in history soon after with a 3-1 success against Eduard Ionescu (12-10, 8-11, 13-11, 11-7), ranked 11th, confirming his status as champion.

“I’m really happy to win, it’s euphoria right now! The final is always really difficult, especially when I was losing, those were mentally really difficult moments.” Felix Lebrun

Three further events featured on Saturday with group fixtures taking centre stage.

Unfortunately for the host nation one of the day’s biggest upsets saw Tomas Martinko depart from the Under-19 Boys’ Singles race at the first hurdle. The fourth-highest ranked player on duty, Martinko, world-ranked 25th, slumped to a 3-1 defeat against world number 416, Heye Koepke of Germany (11-6, 10-12, 11-7, 11-9). Martinko’s luck didn’t improve as he suffered his second loss in opposition to Russia’s Vladislav Makarov (12-10, 11-8, 11-9), ranked 290th.

Bator Radnaev caught the eye in the Under-15 Boys’ Singles, rising above the odds to secure his place in the knock-out draw. The Russian, currently unranked internationally, sent shockwaves throughout the hall in the first session of the day, upstaging Romania’s Horia Stefan Ursut (11-8, 13-11, 6-11, 7-11, 12-10), world-ranked 20th, before condemning Czech Republic’s David Sochor to the same fate (14-16, 11-7, 12-10, 11-5).

Hungarian star Mark Gergely was simply a class above his Czech counterparts

Four entries contested the Under-11 Boys’ Singles event with three representing the Czech Republic, however, it was Hungary’s Mark Gergely who ultimately took the plaudits. Gergely couldn’t have asked for a better start, opening his campaign with a 3-0 win over Oliver Olejnik (11-7, 11-9, 11-5) and he didn’t look back from that moment on, emerging successful against Ondrej Moravek (11-4, 11-5, 11-3) and Tobias Fabian (11-6, 11-3, 11-4) to land the title.

“I’m feeling good. I wasn’t nervous, I didn’t feel any pressure. There were not many people playing, but this is my first time playing internationally so it was interesting.” Mark Gergely

The final day in Havirov promises to provide a thrilling conclusion to a dramatic week with two further champions to crown on Sunday.

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