Russia’s cadets ended 20 years long droughtPhoto: Robert Valai
Cadet Boys Teams Event
Russia waited 20 years for the title in the Cadet Boys Teams Event at the European Youth Championships. Lev KATSMAN, Vladimir SIDORENKO and Maksim GREBNEV led by the coach Maksim KAZANTSEV finally achieved that goal in Zagreb.
“We came here to win. Our goal was to reach the gold and it was not important who is on the other side of the net. This year on each occasion when we played at the ITTF circuit we won gold and even in Sweden in junior category they won bronze in junior category,” said KAZANTSEV.
In the final Russia beat Sweden in the match that did not start in favor of future winners. Truls MOREGARDH had 2:1 advantage against Lev KATSMAN.
“I told him, c’mon you are the best, and you can win it. That shook him and he really started to play better. Boys were just nervous at the beginning,” explained coach Maksim KAZANTSEV. “We worked whole year for this final and for this gold. We were at so many pro tours and junior tournaments. In addition we have a big base to choose from, and this boys here are the best. “
Also team was under pressure in doubles.
“That one was also difficult. We were 2:1 down, undoubtedly they were under pressure but true their characters, they responded and clinched the crown.”
Like their female compatriots, cadets also played Against Azerbaijan in the semi final, after they overcame Turkey and Germany in the Round of 16 and quarters.
“That was our hardest match. We met them in France, and beat them 3:1 and then we were together in the training camp in China. They could not surprise us, because we knew it is going to be close.”
KAZANTSEV praised leadership skills of Lev KATSMAN.
“He is true leader of the team. His energy is great motivation force that moves others. SIDORENKO won all his matches. He is so strong. GREBNEV and KATSMAN are very dangerous together in the doubles. They can beat any pairings in the hall. All three are very valuable players.”
The aspirations are high for singles as well.
“All the players are highly ranked, so our position at the seeding is very good. We expect boys will be equally successful in second part of the Championships. We have great support from our Federation to make good seniors from very talented generation of cadets and we are on the good path,” explained coach Maksim KAZANTSEV.
Speaking about talented players in other teams, KAZANTSEV said that he noticed a lot new kids with good quality of play.
“Poland, Austria, Hungary, Portugal, Sweden…almost every team has one extra talented player.”