by Simon Daish
Pinto carried the weight of expectation on her shoulders, living up to her status as favourite for the Under 15 Girls’ Singles crown by clinching the title. However, the young Portuguese star endured her fair share of challenges along the way.
Returning to the table with back-to-back 3-1 successes against Hungary’s Nora Dohoczki (11-1, 11-5, 5-11, 11-6) and Germany’s Koharu Itagaki (11-5, 10-12, 11-9, 11-2), Pinto survived an even tighter affair against another German in Josephina Neumann (7-11, 14-12, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10) to reach the final. Taking on Russia’s Zlata Terekhova in the title decider, Pinto once again needed all five games to get the job done as she saw off the newly crowned Under 13 champion in nail-biting fashion (11-8, 9-11, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8).
“I’m very happy. It is the first time that I have been a WTT Youth Series event champion. It was important for me to win today because I felt that I could have done better in the Under 17 competition. I hope that this is the first of many titles for me,” said Matilde Pinto
Sweden emerged as the top nation in the Under 19 Girls’ Singles draw thanks to a formidable display from Rebecca Muskantor on day three.
Opening her knock-out stage campaign with dramatic comeback victories over India’s Karruna Gajendran (9-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9) and Serbia’s very own Radmila Tominjak (6-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-8, 11-3), Muskantor then upset the top-ranked entry from India, Swastika Ghosh in straight games (11-6, 11-4, 11-7). Having negotiated two full-distance encounters earlier in the day, Muskantor tackled a different five-game proposition in the final. Helga Dari did everything in her power to reverse a 2-0 deficit, but despite the Hungarian’s substantial recovery effort, it was Muskantor who held the upper hand (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 5-11, 11-5).
“This win was big for me because I’ve been working very hard for this title, so I’m very happy. I feel I was very focused on my tactics and followed the plan exactly. I played it safe at the table, and that’s something I’ve been working on,” said Rebecca Muskantor
There’s no play scheduled for Thursday in Belgrade, with action returning on Friday 1st October. The Boys’ Singles events become the primary focus from Friday onward as the Under 13 and Under 17 events commence.
For event details of WTT Youth Contender Belgrade, click here.