European Championships | 18 Sep 2022

Elena ZAHARIA crowned champion in Singles

Romania's Elena ZAHARIA is crowned champion of the Women's Singles Event at the European Under 21 Championships in Cluj. In breathtaking final she beat Germany's Franziska SCHREINER. Bronze medalists are Zdena BLASKOVA of Czech Republic and Prithika PAVADE of France.

In the final ZAHARIA needed full seven games to overcame Franziska SCHREINER (5, 8, -8, 10, -9, -10, 7). Both girls had to work very hard to be in the final, and also in the final itself. ZAHARIA played 42 games in 7 matches. "Fraulein 4-3" SCHREINER went to a 7th game no less than 4 times and played 44. It was just one too many.

“I expected an extremely difficult match. Franziska is an excellent player and she deserves congratulations for her outstanding play. Last year she won 4-3 in the quarters at the Under 21 European Championships. It was hard to forget experience. That is why I said that I expected a very difficult match today,” said ZAHARIA.

Elena had a better start.

“ I was leading 3 -1. Maybe I started to relax too early and SCHREINER leveled A tough moment was at the end of the sixth game. I was leading 10-9 and I missed a match point and she won the game 12-10. The score became 3 – 3. That was tough. At the beginning of the seventh game I told to myself that I should do something to get rid of the pressure I felt during the previous games. I started to enjoy the game without paying to much attention to the score. I played smiling and with a joy into my heart. I enjoyed each minute of the seventh game and amazingly I won the title. For me wining the gold medal at this edition of U21 European Championships is a very important achievement,” said Elena ZAHARIA.

After winning the cadet girls title in 2018 and 2019, Elena Zaharia now adds a 3rd European title to her collection. She is the 2nd Romanian woman to win the Under 21 title after Adina DIACONU won in 2019.

The day commenced with drama. Elena ZAHARIA and Zdena BLASKOVA opened the ultimate day of the Championships with their semi final duel which ended in favor of home crowd favorite after seven close games. YAHARIO recovered from 1-3 in reverse to win the match (7, -4, -6, -9, 11, 8, 7).

“It was a very difficult match. Zedna BLASKOVA is an exceptionally good player. She won matches against important names in table tennis, in addiction she is three years older than me. It is difficult to play against more experienced players. Also, she is playing with material and I always felt a kind of discomfort playing against players who use materials on their rackets. As I said the match was a very difficult one, “ stated ZAHARIA.

Despite initial lead, ZAHARIA found herself under severe pressure.

“When I was down 1-3 I said to myself that I should enjoy the game, playing at my best without paying much attention to the score. Also thanks to my coach, I changed the tactic in the game five. It worked and I am in the final now. Reaching the final at this competition means a lot to me. I lost the semifinal in Belgrade playing at the Under 19 European Youth Championships. Reaching the final at Under 21 is a special achievement for me. I would like also to mention how much I appreciate the constant support of the fans. This venue is one of my favorites bringing me memories about the 2018 Youth European Championships when I enjoyed excellent results here,” said Elena ZAHARIA.

There were no lack of suspense in the second match of the day when Franziska SCHREINER overcame Prithika PAVADE in seven games (-9, 5, 9, -5, -5, 4, 7). It was PAVADE's 14th match at the tournament whilst Franziska played four less, but on the other side experience of getting out of difficult situations worked in Germany's player favor. At the tournament SCHREINER already won seven games matches against Anna BRZYSKA of Poland and Matilda HANSSON of Sweden. PAVADE lost only two games against two players in Group Stage. When the goings get tough, psychology worked in favor of Franziska this morning.

“We played a very good match this morning with some very close long rallies, but there also a lot of quality on the first balls. Again, I played a seven games match. If I well remember I played against PRITHIKA two times before in junior competitions three or four years ago. I lost the first match against her after I was leading 3-0, but I won the second match.Of course, it was a years ago. Today, it was a new story, said SCHREINER. “There were two key moments of the match. In the third game I was leading 8-2 and it got really close in the end but I managed to win the game. After winning the third game I became more confident. In the seventh game I was down 1-5. When we switched the sides I taught and I said to myself “ok common, let start as a new match again”. I think that this attitude helped me a lot.”