by Simon Daish
Borgar Haug put his name up in lights on a scintillating final day at WTT Youth Star Contender Otocec Presented by I Feel Slovenia after the Norwegian competitor overcame four higher-ranked opponents to claim his first Under-19 Boys’ Singles trophy on the international stage.
Earning his first spotlight-worthy win of the day against the Under-19 champion from last month’s event in Vila Real, Darius Movileanu of Romania (12-10, 11-4, 6-11, 12-10), world number 72 Haug followed up with another exceptional result against Croatia’s Ivor Ban (6-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-5, 11-4), ranked 5th in the ITTF Youth Rankings.
Letting a two-game advantage slip in the semi-finals, Haug didn’t crack under the pressure as he eliminated Russia’s Damir Akhmetsafin, world-ranked 21st, from the title race (11-9, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 11-5). However, the 18-year-old Norwegian saved the best for last, battling past world number 2 Kay Stumper of Germany (12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 12-10).
“It was a challenge for me to see how far I can go. I feel like I played well, now I know I can fight at the top and that is a great feeling. It’s great that we can play tournaments again. It was very professional, the organisation was great, and I hope to come back again.” Borgar Haug.
Iulian Chirita is a young man very much in form having earnt Under-15 Boys’ Singles success at the WTT Youth Series events in Vila Real and Havirov, and now the Romanian has added another title to his collection in Otocec.
Negotiating through his round of 16 encounter against Sweden’s Isak Alfredsson by a 3-1 margin (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7), Chirita came back from behind again to beat Belgian rival Tom Closset (11-13, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4). The world number 1 from Romania secured his ticket to the final at the expense of Slovakia’s Kristian Uherik (11-7, 11-2, 11-5). He then put in another masterclass performance when it mattered most, outpowering the player ranked 17th in the Youth Rankings, Czech Republic’s Martin Sip (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8).
“I think I played very well in the competition, and I am pleased that I received this title, I hope it is not the last! Yes, it is time (to win an Under-19 title), but there are a lot of good players, I hope that I will continue to play well.” Iulian Chirita.
Success for Chirita continued as he celebrated his second title of the day, having also prevailed alongside Dragos Alexandru Bujor in the Under-15 Boys’ Doubles event. Resuming their efforts with a 3-1 semi-final victory over Israel’s Uri Almor and Itay Avivi (8-11, 11-4, 11-3, 11-6), the Romanian pair of Chirita and Bujor was even more clinical at the final hurdle as they brushed aside Sweden’s Isak Alfredsson and Qatar’s Rawad Alnaser in straight games (11-8, 11-7, 11-7) to lift the trophy.
The other title showdown came in the Under-19 Boys’ Doubles draw as Hungary’s Csaba Andras and Croatia’s Ivor Ban left Otocec on a positive note. Responding from a slow start to see off Russian counterparts Damir Akhmetsafin and Maksim Bokov in the penultimate round (8-11, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9), Andras and Ban were crowned champions later in the day after they accounted for France’s Alexis Kouraichi and Thibault Poret by the same margin (11-7, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4).
Four days of thrilling competition drew to a close with all eight titles awarded. Stay tuned to the WTT website for further information about the WTT Youth Series in the coming weeks.
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