by Simon Daish
Jain’s character was tested multiple times on a gruelling day in the Under 17 Boys’ Singles event, surviving three nail-biting encounters to strike an unlikely title win in Otocec.
Resuming from the quarter-finals stage, Jain showed tremendous spirit to recover a 1-2 deficit to beat Romania’s Andrei Teodor Istrate 3-2 (11-8, 8-11, 2-11, 11-9, 14-12). But the best was yet to come from the young Indian talent.
Trailing by two games, Jain pulled off an astonishing comeback win over Russia’s Vladislav Makarov in the penultimate round (9-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-10). Riding off a massive wave of confidence, Jain replicated his semi-final magic against Germany’s Tom Fabian Schweiger in the final (5-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-8) to seal the title dramatically.
“This tournament was great for me. It is the first time that I have played in Slovenia. I started from qualifying and fought through the elimination rounds. I am very happy,” said Jain
The jaw-dropping comebacks weren’t limited to Payas Jain. In the Under 13 Boys’ Singles event, Petr Hodina caught the eye with his mighty 3-2 upset victory over the highest-ranked player on duty and fellow Austrian, Julian Rzihauschek (7-11, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4). However, Hodina ultimately fell one step short in his quest for glory as Germany’s Noah Hersel reserved the top spot (8-11, 11-9, 11-5, 6-11, 11-9).
“I am very happy to win the tournament. I congratulate Petr for a great match as it was difficult right until the end,” said Hersel
Emanuel Otalvaro was the talk of the town in the Under 11 Boys’ Singles. The Colombian came away with 3-0 victories in all four of his fixtures, including a crushing display against Russia’s Aleksandar Miscevic at the final hurdle (11-7, 11-6, 11-5). Elsewhere, Hannes Hoermann of Germany stunned Belgium’s Nicolas Degros (11-8, 17-19, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4) in Under 19 Boys’ Singles group stage action, while Slovenia’s very own Miha Podobnik successfully topped his Under 15 Boys’ Singles group.
“I feel very good after winning the tournament. I really like the WTT Youth Series and I really enjoy being in Slovenia, so next year I am coming back to defend the title,” said Otalvaro
The two remaining Boys’ Singles title races feature front and centre on day three, with play getting underway from 9.00 local time in Otocec. Starting with the round of 64, Monday hosts six rounds contested in the Under 15 and Under 19 events, with both finals rounding off the day.
Follow all the table tennis action from WTT Youth Contender Otocec here.