by Simon Daish
Romania’s Horia Stefan Ursut encountered a day of hardship in the Under 17 Boys’ Singles draw, surviving three full-distance thrillers. Ursut’s most significant victory came against Russia’s Roman Vinogradov as he fought back from behind to earn his place in the quarter-finals (6-11, 11-3, 7-11, 11-9, 11-8).
The highest-ranked player competing in Varaždin, Darius Movileanu awaits Ursut in an all-Romania encounter following victories over Belgium’s Tom Closset (7-11, 11-5, 14-12, 11-9) and Russia’s Serafim Orlov (11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 12-10). Eduard Ionescu also progresses following a narrow 3-2 win in his meeting with France’s Adrien Coton (14-16, 11-5, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6).
“It was an unexpected match; it was very difficult, something I did not expect. In the end, I was mentally strong. I am proud to have been calm and to have been able to end the match with a high-quality game. In the quarter-finals, I will try to play the best I can. I will not think about the result, but I will think about each point as it comes. At the tournament in Slovenia, I won the U19 competition, and I hope for similar success in Varaždin,” said Ionescu
Next in line to face Ionescu is Belgium’s Louis Laffineur, who heads into the last eight with plenty of confidence. Prevailing over Slovakia’s Samuel Arpas in the round of 32 (11-4, 9-11, 12-10, 12-10), Laffineur also accounted for Hungary’s Erik Huzsvar 3-1 after overturning an early deficit (12-14, 11-9, 11-2, 11-9).
“A lot of time has passed since I played in the quarter-finals of a tournament, so I am happy to have qualified. I lost the first game to Erik Huzsvar, but after that, I raised the level of my performance, and I won the next three. I played a good match, and I am very happy,” said Laffineur
Botond Zoltan Varga caught the eye in the Under 13 Boys’ Singles event. Coming away unscathed from his opening three fixtures, the young Hungarian player pulled off a mesmerising comeback display in the round of 16 as he successfully fought back from two games down to see off Austria’s Benjamin Girlinger (11-13, 7-11, 11-3, 11-9, 13-11).
“It was a very hard match for me. The key moment came in the last game, which I played well in and won. I am very happy to have qualified for the quarter-finals. I won all three matches in the group 3-0, and I hope for another victory in the quarters,” said Varga
Qatar celebrated a memorable day in the Under 13 draw after two competitors secured tickets to the last eight. Finishing as a group runner-up, Ahmed Korani negotiated two further encounters in the knock-out draw against Romania’s Robert Alexandru Istrate (7-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6) and Hungary’s Mark Gergely (11-8, 12-10, 10-12, 11-4). Meanwhile, Korani’s compatriot Sultan Al-Kuwari topped his group without dropping a game before beating Czech counterpart Martin Slany 3-0 (11-8, 12-10, 14-12) to end the day with a perfect record.
“I played a difficult match against a quality player, but I am glad that I played well and qualified for the quarter-finals. I also had tough matches in the group, but I won all of them 3-0 to finish first. I expect a difficult match in the quarter-finals as well, but I hope to win and reach the semi-finals,” said Al-Kuwari
The Under 13 and Under 17 Boys’ Singles events conclude on Thursday, with the finals scheduled for 20.30 and 21.00. Additionally, group stage action features on three fronts, with the Under 11, Under 15 and Under 19 events getting underway.