Tin Tin HO in good shape in SochiPhoto: Alex LOMAEV
STAG 2017 European Under 21 Championships
Belgium’s team certainly highlighted the opening day at the STAG 2017 European Under 21 Championships in Sochi with few upsets. Unfortunately for host nation, Belgium’s accounted for Russia’s players. After success of Thibaut DARCIS who Konstantin CHERNOV, in Women’s Singles Event, Nathalie MARCHETTI seeded at the position no. 30 overcame, number 9 seed Maria MALANINA of Russia.
“The result is very good, but it is not such a big surprise,” explained coach Marc CLOSSET .”Our players have an opportunity to play against very good Russian’s player with defensive style of play. So, Nathalie was ready.”
MARCHETTI confirmed it: “I know MALANINA was favorite, but I stood the pressure. I felt confident, playing against the defenders. My service game was very good."
Unfortunately that success did not help her to progress to the next phase of the competition. She lost against Croatia’s Andrea PAVLOVIC (11-9, 5-11, 7-11, 9-11, 6-11). MALANINA beat PAVLOVIC in seven games (5-11, 11-3, 11-2, 11-13, 8-11, 11-2, 11-4). It was sufficient for the second place in the Group, whilst Croatia’s player moved forward from the top.
From Group 2, Ekaterina GUSEVA of Russia confirmed her status. Veronica MOSCONI of Italy also moved to the second day of the competition in the singles.
Tin Tin HO of England prevailed against Karoline MISCHEK of Austria in the second round (12-10, 11-7, 4-11, 11-4, 11-5), earlier she recorded the victory against Simay KULAKCEKEN of Turkey in straight games (11-3, 11-4, 11-7, 11-1).
“Against Karoline, I think the match was decided after time - out after I lost third game. Coach managed to calm me down and I finally settled into right rhythm. He encouraged me and I get the grip again,” said HO.
She secured the top position in her group after victory over Annika LUNDSTROM of Finland (11-5, 11-2, 11-7, 11-4). KULAKCEKEN is second. She beat MISCHEK in the last round (8-11, 11-7, 7-11, 10-12, 11-7, 6-11).
From Group 4 ZHANG Xuan Xu of Spain and Anna WEGRZYN booked top two places. Kim VERMAAS of Netherlands overcame Ilka DOVAL of Norway (11-8, 11-6, 11-4, 11-8) and Jamila LAURENTI of Italy (12-14, 11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6), before she beat Ema LABOSOVA of Slovakia (11-5, 11-4, 11-8, 11-7).
“It proved once again that the opening match is the hardest. Against Ilka I faced no problems at all.”
DOVAL finished second with two victories.
For Zdena BLASKOVA of Czech Republic it was very long day. The opening game in the Group she won after full distance thriller against Natalia GRIGELOVA of Slovakia, before she accounted for the leading name in the Group Charlotte CAREY of Wales in another seven games match (9-11, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9, 10-12, 4-11, 6-11). She recovered from 1-3 in reverse to win the duel.
“I just need time to warm up. Game after game I am playing better and better,” said Zdena.
She sealed the day with the victory over Filippa BERGAND of Sweden to book the first place in the group (11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 4-11, 11-5, 11-5). Charlotte CAREY also progressed to the next stage. They will join Hanna PATSEYEVA of Belarus and Nicole TROSMAN of Israel top players in group 7, a swell as Alina NIKITCHANKA of Belarus and Klara CAKOL of Croatia from Group 8. Dorina SREBRNJAK of Croatia and Karolina MYNAROVA of Czech Republic will be in the main draw tomorrow.
Tilda JOHANSSON of Sweden beat Angelique GERTENBACH in the opening round of the Group Stage, but the win did not came easy (10-12, 8-11, 11-5, 11-3, 11-6, 11-6).
“I lost two opening games, but I managed to recover and to win. I am not disappointed by the slow start, it was my adversary who really played very good at the beginning,” said JOHANSSON.” Whole team is ready for the challenge, we had a good training camp and we worked with the national senior team, so we expect good results. For us it is a good opportunity to have Championships like Under 21, to have the opportunity to play and to learn more.”
With two wins she concluded the day at the top of the group, above Maria YOVKOVA of Bulgaria.
Lisa LUNG suffered unexpected defeat in the opening round against Tatiana KUKULKOVA of Slovakia (10-12, 8-11, 8-11, 4-11), but managed to reduce the damage by beating Giorgia PICCOLIN of Italy in second Round (11-4, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8).
“It was important to set my own pace at the very beginning of the game. I succeeded and latter even, I was surprised by the straight games victory. However, I believe in lucky numbers,” Lisa stayed mysterious.
She moved to the next round after victory over Ipek KARAHAN of Turkey. KUKULKOVA beat Italian representative to win the top place in the group.
Another player from Belgium, Eline LOYEN, beat the odds and finished first in front of Kristyna STEFCOVA of Czech Republic.