by Simon Daish
Shirokova let her intentions known early on, causing a stir with a decisive 3-1 win over Germany’s Faustyna Stefanska (11-7, 7-11, 11-4, 11-3). Uzbekistan’s Asel Erkebaeva also fell at Shirokova’s hands despite taking the opening game in their semi-final clash (8-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-4), and there were similar scenes one round later.
The plan looked to be going well for title favourite Josephina Neumann in the final after the German raced into a one-game lead, but Shirokova had other ideas. Taking her performance to another level, the young Russian secured the next three games in a row to put the result beyond any doubt (6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7).
“I feel very good; this tournament is amazing! I opened well, and I played without nerves. I didn’t worry about anything, and I am glad that to win the tournament. I want to thank my coaches for their support, and I’m happy about the result,” said Shirokova
Winner of the Under 17 Girls’ Singles event earlier this week in Varaždin, Romania’s Elena Zaharia successfully repeated the feat in Otocec.
The highest-ranked player in the event, Zaharia laid down the marker with commanding performances against Germany’s Mia Griesel (11-6, 13-11, 12-10) and fellow Romanian player Bianca Mei Rosu (11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-9). Pushed right to the limit in the final, Zaharia lent on her vast title match experience to expertly navigate a nerve-wracking full distance bout against India’s Yashaswini Deepak Ghorpade (8-11, 13-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3).
“I am very happy with the result. The final was tough as her style of playing was quite challenging for me. The tournament was very good, and the atmosphere here is very nice. I hope that tomorrow I continue with good performances to also be competitive in the Under 19s,” said Zaharia
After winning all four of her group matches, India’s Dhaani Jain was crowned Under 11 Girls’ Singles. Outclassing the host nation trio of Sara Erhatic, Neza Horvat and Laura Rahotin Pavic with straight games victories, Jain also recovered to beat Uzbekistan’s Arujan Kamalova 3-2 (6-11, 11-6, 5-11, 11-7, 11-8) to lift the trophy.
“The matches were very tough, but I played well. It is a great feeling to win the tournament. Now I am going to Tunis, where I hope to extend my good form. After that, I am returning home to practice as I continue improving my game,” said Jain
Two titles remain up for discussion, with the final day of play in Otocec focusing exclusively on the Under 15 and Under 19 Girl’s Singles events.