by Simon Daish
Providing the opposition for Voronina in the final was Ece Harac, ranked 63rd in the ITTF Table Tennis Youth Rankings, and the Turkish player looked well on her way to a sensational win with both the opening two games going in her favour. Voronina kept the dream alive with back-to-back game successes before saving two match point opportunities against her in the fifth to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (8-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9, 14-12).
“After such a long period not playing international events, I was looking forward to this restart and I’m very happy that I won here.” Vlada Voronina
Forced right down to the wire in the title decider, it wasn’t the first time Voronina demonstrated composure in the face of adversity, beating Croatia’s Dora Cosic (11-8, 11-9, 4-11, 7-11, 11-4) and India’s Diya Parag Chitale (11-8, 7-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7) in the lead-up to the final. Voronina also accounted for fellow Russian and world number 17, Elizabet Abraamian (11-8, 13-11, 1-11, 11-4) in her knock-out stage endeavours.
A first WTT success for Voronina in the Under-19 category, meanwhile a familiar face stood above the rest in the Under-15 Girls’ Singles event as Wales’ Anna Hursey prevailed.
World number 3 Hursey, who secured her first international title at WTT Youth Contender Vila Real, followed up a flawless group performance with 3-0 victories over Russian opponents Zlata Terekhova (11-8, 11-6, 11-7) and Viktoriia Shirokova (11-3, 13-11, 11-7) to set up a thrilling clash with the player ranked directly above her in the world standings, Egypt’s Hana Goda.
The previous meeting between the two, which came at the 2020 ITTF Swedish Junior and Cadet Open, saw Hursey hold the slight edge over Goda in a full distance contest, and history repeated itself on the closing day in Tunis as the Welsh star served up another wonderful display to seal the title (11-6, 11-6, 16-18, 9-11, 11-8).
“I was very impressed with the event. It is an incredible feeling to play on the show courts, I was not used to playing with so many cameras! It means a lot to win. Hana played well, I played well. It was a very good match.” Anna Hursey
Hursey leaves Tunis with two trophies in her possession, having also succeeded in the Under-15 Girls’ Doubles event alongside Portugal’s Matilde Pinto. At the final hurdle, Hursey and Pinto demonstrated nerves of steel and a great deal of patience to hold off a late comeback attempt from Croatia’s Zrinka Rebic and Slovakia’s Dominika Wiltschkova (11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6).
The final showdown for the Under-19 Girls’ Doubles title proved a more one-sided affair as Russia’s Elizabet Abraamian and Natalia Malinina produced a barnstorming 3-0 win in their head-to-head against Indian counterparts Diya Parag Chitale and Swastika Ghosh (11-3, 11-6, 11-7). Abraamian and Malinina end their doubles campaign with a perfect record, winning all three of their fixtures in straight games!
Eight dramatic finals contested across the boys’ and girls’ events and we now know the full line-up of title winners in Tunis. The WTT Youth Series returns on Monday 7th June with Havirov, the Czech Republic the next stop on the 2021 calendar.
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