First Day of April, No Joke for Russians, Narrow Defeats End Title Hopes
Courtesy of ITTF
April 1, 2015 – Major title contenders, the Russian trio comprising Artur Abusev, Ilya Isakov and Anton Kotov, the second seeds in the Junior Boys’ Team event at the 2015 Belgium Junior and Cadet Open, endured a day of action on Wednesday April 1st, they will want to forget.
In certain parts of the world, the day is known as “April Fools’ Day”, a day for practical jokes; for the Russians it was no joke on the opening day of play in Spa.
Two fixtures completed, it was two defeats, both by the full distance three matches to two score-line, in a competition that witnesses five teams in action competing on an all-play-all basis.
Luka Mladenovic the Architect
Adar Alguetti of the United States alongside the Luxembourg duo of Luka Mladenovic and Tom Hoffman emerged the first trio to cause the Russians pain.
Mainstay of the downfall was Luka Mladenovic, he accounted for Ilya Isakov by the very narrowest of five game margins in the opening contest (12-10, 6-11, 5-11, 13-11, 11-9), before in the fourth contest of the fixture accounting for Artur Abusev (10-12, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8).
The one remaining win for the victors came from Adar Alguetti in the vital fifth match of the engagement; he defeated Ilya Isakov (4-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6); for Russia, the two successes came in the second and third matches. Artur Abusev beat Adar Alguetti (12-10, 12-10, 11-9), Anton Kotov accounted for Tom Hoffmann (11-2, 11-4, 11-1).
A close defeat in the opening engagement, it was an even closer defeat in the second duel of the day, against the outfit formed by the combination of Estonia’s Aleksandr Lusin, Moldova’s Andrei Putuntica and Ireland’s Alan Walsh.
Andrei Putuntica, who had lined up alongside Artur Abusev in the European Boys’ Team at the 2014 ITTF Cadet Challenge and had won Boys’ Doubles gold with Romania’s Cristian Pletea, was the architect of Russia’s downfall.
In the opening match of the fixture, he accounted for Artur Abusev (6-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-6), before in the vital fifth and deciding contest overcoming Anton Kotov in a five games thriller (11-9, 11-3, 8-11, 5-11, 16-14). The one further win for the victors came from Aleksandr Lusin against Anton Kotov in the second match of the engagement (11-8, 7-11, 11-9, 11-9).
Meanwhile, for Russia the wins came in the third and fourth contests as a revival was mounted.
Ilya Isakov beat Alan Walsh in five games (9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-3, 11-4), to be followed by Artur Abusev whose defensive skills proved too secure for Aleksandr Lusin (11-9, 11-4, 11-8).
Top Seeds in Control
Defeats for the top seeds but there were no such problems for the top seeded Belgian trio of Artur Bilas, Florian Cnudde and Thibaut Darcis.
They recorded a three-nil win against the outfit formed by Canada’s Matthew Lehmann, who lined up alongside the host nation’s Valentin Pieraert and Basil Ayaou; before posting the same impressive margin of victory in opposition to the formation of Adar Alguetti, Luka Mladenovic and Tom Hoffman.
Surprises in the first phase of the Junior Boys’ Team event, there was also a surprise of note in the initial stage of the corresponding Cadet Boys’ Team competition.
Poland ‘B’ (Artur Greta, Kamil Dziadek) finished in first place in their group ahead of France (Antoine Doyen, Bilal Hamache) with the Czech Republic (Matej Siwiec, Jan Valenta), the no.3 seeds, finishing in third spot and thus eliminated from proceedings.
Teams finishing in first and second places in each of the five groups advance to the second stage.
First Positions Secured
One surprise first place, there were no more.
The United States (Sharon Alguetti, Gal Alguetti), the top seeds, duly secured first place in their group, as did Romania (Cristian Stefan-Bogdan, Mihai Zamfir), the second seed.
Likewise, it was first place in the group for Belgium ‘A’ (Romain Gaspar, Laurens Devos) and Italy ‘A’ (John Oyebode, Gabriele Piciulin), the respective fourth and fifth seeds.
Team Events Conclude
Play in the team events concludes on Thursday April 2nd.
Visit ITTF for more information on the 2015 Belgium Junior & Cadet Open – ITTF Junior Circuit.