by Simon Daish
Standing opposite a familiar face in an all-Romania title decider, Ionescu, 16, displayed maturity beyond his years as he successfully held off a late comeback push from Andrei Teodor Istrate (11-3, 11-8, 5-11, 5-11, 11-3) to claim the ultimate bragging rights in the Under 19 event.
“I am very proud of myself in this match, after losing out to Tom Schweiger from Germany in the Under 17 semi-final. It was a very difficult match, but I did well mentally, and today I made good decisions. It was very hard because in the semi-finals and the final I played against my teammates. We train together; it is hard for us as we know everything that we are capable of. I am just happy with the win,” said Ionescu
The third-highest ranked player competing in the event, Ionescu secured another giant scalp in the semi-finals with his ruthless display against title favourite Darius Movileanu (11-7, 11-8, 11-7).
Ionescu’s compatriot Iulian Chirita also came away with a title to his name following a successful conclusion to his Under 15 Boys’ Singles campaign.
Negotiating the opening stages of the knock-out draw with 3-0 victories over Saudi Arabia’s Ali Altaher and Germany’s Manuel Prohaska, Chirita added a further win against Russia’s Aleksei Samokhin (16-14, 8-11, 11-4, 11-5) to book his place in the semi-finals.
Playing with the wind in his sail, Chirita lived up to expectations as the highest-ranked player in the Under 15 race, beating Kazakhstan’s Alan Kurmangaliyev (11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8) and fellow Romanian, Dragos Alexandru Bujor (11-9, 11-8, 11-1) to lift the title.
“This was a very hard tournament with so many great opponents. I started a little bit badly, but I managed to win, and I am very happy. I hope there will be more competitions like this in Slovenia,” said Chirita
A one-day break in play is scheduled on Tuesday, with action resuming on Wednesday 8th September as the Girls’ Singles programme takes the spotlight.