Italy took the title in Juniors against all oddsPhoto: Robert Valai
European Youth Championships
Three years ago Lorenzo NANNONI led the team of Italy that conquered Europe and stopped French dominance after their five consecutive years at the top. At the European Championships in Zagreb, once again NANNONI had the team for big results. Italian juniors took the crown by the storm creating one of the biggest upsets in the process.
Asked to compare those two teams under his guidance, NANNONI admitted:
“Three years ago we had Leonardo MUTTI and Alessandro BACIOCCHI who came to Ostrava to claim the title. They were ready and experienced and we aimed gold. They were ready for that. Now, we came with young players, with Leonardo’s brother Matteo MUTTI, Daniele PINTO, Antonino AMATO and Luca BRESSAN with lack of experience in the big matches. We had a quarterfinal last year but that was our best achievement in recent past. They have not played in semis or finals.”
The lack of big matches could be seen by their attitude before the final.
“Before the final they were talking about all wrong things. They were not focused on the essence. They commented the atmosphere, the balls…They were not focused on the match. On top of all Czech’s Jiri MARTINKO started the match in fierce style and he beat MUTTI in straight games. Then POLANSKY overcame PINTO. We were on the wrong tracks before BRESSAN took us back and from that point boys played unbelievable match.”
MUTTI showed what he is capable of by beating POLANSKY, but previously he already prevailed against Europe’s no. one Darko JORGIC of Slovenia.
“We had great problems in the Group phase. We needed just one point against Poland to reach position no. two in our Group. I know, that way of thinking pushed us into defeat. Boys were so much focused on fact that we need just one match, that we eventually lost 3:0. So we went into next phase from third position in the Group and it made our journey much harder.”
Italy beat Belgium in straight matches, but all three matches concluded after full five games duels. In the Round of 16 already, they had to play against big favorites - Slovenia.
“It started very bad for us. We know that JORGIC will most probably won both his matches and after CVETKO’s great performance and 3:2 win over PINTO, who was under great pressure, our chances were very poor. The tables turn when MUTTI overcame JORGIC. That was unbelievable match.”
Speaking about the players NANNONI pointed:
“There is place for improvement in PINTO’s game, but good thing now is that he is very consistent. He knows what is necessary to finish the point, without making things complicated. Against Germany he won two points. Mateo is very dangerous for everyone. He is not making easy mistakes and he goes after each ball.”
Italian Junior champion AMATO played at the position no. three in the opening matches, but after his performance against Poland and Russia, BRESSAN stepped in.
“Against Belgium BRESSAN was very good and he had equally good performance against Slovenia. Without great philosophy, but with great consistence and without oscillations he contributed with very valuable wins.”
Italian team showed solidarity. On the medal rostrum they carried big banner with words of support for Eliza TROTTI who recently had very heavy traffic accident.