20 Jun 2021

Egypt’s Hana Goda has become the first player from the African continent to lift a WTT Youth Series trophy after the 13-year-old secured an undefeated record in the Under-15 Girls’ Singles category at WTT Youth Star Contender Otocec presented by I feel Slovenia.

by Simon Daish

Untroubled in her fixtures against Austria’s Kiara Segula (11-5, 11-6, 11-3) and Germany’s Jele Stortz (11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4), Goda, world number 1 in the age bracket, cruised through her semi-final encounter with France’s Leana Hochart (11-5, 11-8, 11-5) to set up another head-to-head with Welsh rival Anna Hursey.

Their meeting was a repeat of the WTT Youth Star Contender Tunis Under-15 final which saw Hursey prevail across five games. However, on this occasion, Goda refused to let her opponent establish a foothold on the match as the Egyptian earnt her revenge in dominant fashion (11-7, 11-4, 11-4).

“I am so happy that I won this tournament because in Tunisia I lost the final to Anna, I was very nervous. This tournament was very good and had great organisation. I am looking forward to coming back.” Hana Goda

Vlada Voronina took home the second singles title of the day after the world number 3 lived up to expectations in the Under-19 Girls’ Singles draw.

Starting the day with a win against Rebecca Muskantor despite trailing the Swede early on (7-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-3), Voronina went on to overcome two up-and-coming stars in Hana Goda (14-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9) and Germany’s Annett Kaufmann (11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 11-2) to join Romania’s Elena Zaharia, world-ranked 6th, in the final.

As two players with past title experience at Under-19 level having won in Tunis and Havirov respectively, Voronina and Zaharia played out a tight affair as anticipated with the Romanian striking first to claim the early advantage. Down by a game but Voronina wouldn’t be held back for long and three captivating games later it was the Russian who celebrated victory (5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 12-10).

Voronina wasn’t the only player from her country to enjoy success with Iuliia Pugovkina and Anastasiia Ivanova getting the better of Anna Hursey and Portugal’s Matilde Pinto. Displaying great bravery with a spirited comeback, but ultimately Hursey and Pinto didn’t have enough in the tank to stop Pugovkina and Ivanova on this occasion, with the Russians saving a match point in the decider (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 6-11, 13-11).

“In the final match, we were very nervous because we never played against those girls before. We were winning 2:0, then it was 2:2 – we tried to get our mentality together, we pulled through the match and won.” Iuliia Pugovkina and Anastasiia Ivanova.

Success on two fronts for Russia and it could have been more, but Romania’s Ioana Singeorzan and Portugal’s Ines Matos had other ideas. Taking on Natalia Malinina and Arina Slautina for Under-19 Girls’ Doubles honours, Singeorzan and Matos rose above their early nerves as they saved three game points across the opening two games and didn’t look back from that moment on (12-10, 13-11, 11-8).

“This was the first time that we played together so we were not expecting this, but we are very happy with the result. The key was that we remained positive and managed to combine our styles.” Ioana Singeorzan and Ines Matos

Two days down, with two to go in Otocec as focus shifts to the Boys’ Singles and Doubles events when play resumes on Friday.

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