by Simon Daish
Dreaming big, Belik’s first objective was to make his way through the Under-17 Boys’ Singles quarter-finals. Taking on Carlos Fernandez of Peru, Belik rose to the occasion to beat the Latin American across four games (11-6, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9).
One victory in the bag, Belik earnt his second of the day in opposition to Izaac Quek Yong but was made to work hard by the Singapore player who forced the Czech down to the wire (11-6, 5-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-8). Within touching distance of the title, Belik met face-to-face with the Under-17 champion from the previous week’s action at WTT Youth Contender Lignano, Nicholas Lum, in the final. The Australian had his fair share of chances in the match and gave Belik a good run for his money. However, the latter player came away the happier of the two after successfully negotiating an intense four-game affair to secure the top spot (11-9, 12-10, 9-11, 11-2).
“I am proud of myself as this is my first win. All my matches were tough, but no doubt my semi-finals match against Quek was the hardest one. He put me under quite a lot of pressure as his playstyle was really difficult. Luckily, I was able to overcome it and play how I practiced. Before the competition, I was getting more and more confident in my training sessions because I was playing stronger as the competition date came closer. I wanted to perform my best and win this category, and it came true! I would like to keep this up and perform well in the Under-19 category. Hopefully, I can repeat this victory once again,” said Simon Belik
Atherva Gupta was the other player to emerge from day two with a trophy to his name following a successful Under-13 Boys’ Singles campaign for the Indian player.
Returning to the table with a commanding win over Austria’s Benjamin Girlinger (11-7, 11-6, 11-4), Gupta was just as decisive at the semi-final hurdle, where he dispatched Italy’s Francesco Trevisan (11-4, 11-5, 11-4). Pavol Kokavec gave a good account of himself in the final but couldn’t quite find the winning formula as Gupta reserved his first WTT Youth Series title with a 3-1 victory over his Slovak counterpart (11-3, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8).
“I am really happy. I usually reach the quarter-finals or semis, but this time I was able to find my way through and win this category. It feels like the work that I have been doing all this time is paying off. I got nervous with the opponent’s supporting crowd, as well as it being the final, but my friend, who was my coach, calmed me down. Without him, I could not have done this, so I am really thankful for him. Younger players are rising, they are managing to get further in every tournament, so I can’t stop the hard work, and now I must focus on the next competition,” said Atherva Gupta
Elsewhere, India’s Yashansh Malik endured a disappointing start to the Under-19 Boys’ Singles event. Ranked fourth on the entry list, Malik held lofty aspirations heading to Szombathely. Yet, full distance defeats to Spain’s Miguel Angel Pantoja (11-5, 6-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7) and Hungary’s Akos Kishegyi (11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 6-11, 11-9) saw the 18-year-old succumb to an unexpected group exit.
The third and final day of Boys’ Singles action focuses on the three remaining title debates. Play begins at 0900 local time with the early knock-out round conversation in full swing, before the Under-11 final takes centre stage from 1500. After the quarter-final and semi-final rounds are decided, the attention shifts to the Under-15 and Under-19 finals, which are scheduled back-to-back from 1815 local time.
For more details on WTT Youth Contender Szombathely, click here.