by Simon Daish

Kaufmann, world-ranked 5th in the Under-15 age bracket, opened her day with back-to-back successes against Russian opposition, defeating Iuliia Pugovkina (9-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-3) and Zlata Terekhova (11-7, 11-3, 11-5) before staging a masterful comeback in her quarter-final clash with Ukraine’s Veronika Matiunina (9-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-1, 11-8), world ranked 30th.

Brimming with confidence, Kaufmann followed up with a 3-0 win over world number 31 Clea De Stoppeleire (11-2, 11-8, 11-9) and was just as unforgiving when it mattered most, showing no mercy to De Stoppeleire’s French compatriot Agathe Anne Avezou in a one-sided final (11-2, 11-6, 11-5).

“I’m really proud of myself! Not only because of this win but also because of the second place in the Under-17 tournament yesterday. I didn’t let her attack, that was the crucial thing. The counterattack is her best quality, but I either pushed hard or attacked immediately so she couldn’t attack me.” Annett Kaufmann

Anastasiya Dymytrenko (left) and Elena Zaharia (right) shine in Under-19 event

Romania’s Elena Zaharia couldn’t have asked for a better conclusion to her campaign in Havirov with the Under-17 champion leaving the Czech city with the Under-19 Girls’ Singles crown also in her grasp.

Off to a blistering start with convincing outings against Germany’s Naomi Pranjkovic (11-3, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9) and Italy’s Nicole Arlia (11-5, 11-6, 11-7), world number 20 Zaharia met an unexpected name in the last four after Alina Vydruchenko, ranked 107th, upset the player ranked 101 positions above her in Russia’s Vlada Voronina (12-10, 11-4, 9-11, 11-9). The highest-ranked player left in the draw, Zaharia would avoid the same fate as Voronina, battling past Ukraine’s Vydruchenko 3-1 (13-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6).

The job wasn’t done yet for Zaharia with another opponent from Ukraine, Anastasiya Dymytrenko, awaiting the final hurdle following her shock 3-1 victory over world number 13 Jamila Laurenti of Italy (11-8, 11-9, 7-11, 11-4). Dymytrenko, ranked 77th, gave Zaharia a good run for her money, applying continuous pressure in the title decider. But Zaharia, an experienced finalist, didn’t let any nervous tension disrupt her flow as she powered over the finish line in four games (11-7, 14-12, 7-11, 12-10).

“It’s a great feeling and it’s also important for the upcoming European Championships because I feel ready and in-form now… I was so nervous! I thought it was too easy in the first set, but then she started winning points and I got really nervous. Luckily, I won the decisive points.” Elena Zaharia

All five Girls’ Singles events have now drawn to a close, but there is still plenty of drama to be told in Havirov with the attention shifting to Boys’ Singles action on Friday.

Keep up to date with the action on www.worldtabletennis.com

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