by Simon Daish
Announcing a clear statement of intent in his round of 32 encounter with Israel’s Uri Almor (11-3, 11-1, 11-5), Chirita, ranked at the top of the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Rankings in the Under-15 category, survived a stern test one round later with France’s Flavien Coton taking the Romanian down to the wire (11-3, 7-11, 12-14, 12-10, 11-8).
The host nation’s Martin Sip (11-5, 16-14, 11-7) and Hungary’s Balazs Lei (11-5, 11-9, 11-9) were the next players to exit at the hands of Chirita as he successfully secured his passage to the final, where a daunting task presented itself in the form of France’s Felix Lebrun. Painful memories of a shock quarter-final defeat to Lebrun in the Under-17 Boys’ Singles event, propelled Chirita to exact his revenge in devastating fashion as the 15-year-old from Romania outclassed the world number 8 in straight games (11-5, 12-10, 11-7).
“I feel really good. He beat me in the Under-17 quarter-finals, so it is important that I learnt from it and won. It’s more difficult when everyone expects you to win because there are so many good players.” Iulian Chirita
Success for Chirita means that he holds three WTT Youth series titles having prevailed in the Under-15 and Under-17 categories at WTT Youth Contender Vila Real.
France’s Alexis Lebrun was presented with the final title on offer in Havirov, beating Romania’s Eduard Ionescu to the top step of the Under-19 Boys’ Singles podium.
Meeting an opponent ranked 44 positions higher in the ITTF Youth Rankings, world number 90 Lebrun knew he would require nothing short of his best to take the game to Ionescu. Missing out to Felix Lebrun in the Under-17 final the day before, Ionescu suffered the same fate against Felix’s older brother Alexis on Sunday with the latter player prevailing across four games to lift the Under-19 title (11-7, 11-8, 14-16, 11-6).
“It was my first big tournament after the COVID break, so it was important to perform well. I think I had a better serve, so I won many points thanks to that. It also got me to better positions so I could attack with my forehand.” Alexis Lebrun
The title marked the perfect end to a magnificent day for Lebrun, who enjoyed a faultless run to the final. Opening his knock-out stage account with a 3-0 win over the Czech Republic’s Frantisek Onderka (11-6, 11-6, 11-8), Lebrun breezed past Russia’s Vladislav Makarov (11-3, 11-4, 11-8) and Ukraine’s Andrii Grebeniuk (11-2, 11-9, 11-9) by the same margin before consigning the Under-19 Boys’ Singles winner from WTT Youth Star Contender Tunis and world number 2, Germany’s Kay Stumper to semi-final elimination (11-5, 11-8, 11-2).
An action-packed week draws to a close in Havirov with all 10 champions crowned. The WTT Youth Series now travels to Slovenia for WTT Youth Star Contender Otocec presented by I Feel Slovenia with play scheduled to get underway on Tuesday 15th June.
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