Serbia Open Review: Americans Compete in Zrenjanin
(by Steve Hopkins)
The 2019 ITTF Junior Circuit Serbia Junior & Cadet Open was held this week in Zrenjanin, Serbia. The tournament featured singles, doubles, and team events in Junior and Cadet age groups. The American Contingent included Michael Tran, Kai Zarehbin, and Amy Wang. Kai and Michael were seeded at 11th and 13th among the junior boys. Amy was seeded first in the Junior Girls Singles event.
In Singles, Kai Zarehbin finished 1-1, defeating Slovakia’s Kamil Pach 4-2 but losing in the Round of 32 to Filip Radulovic of Montenegro 4-1. Radulovic was the fourth seed. In the bottom half of the draw, Michael Minh Tran was 2-1. He defeated Lode Hulshof of the Netherlands 4-3 and Matyas Lebeda of the Czech Republic 4-2. However, Tran’s run ended in the Round of 16, when he fell 4-1 to Guilherme Teodoro of Brazil. Teodoro went on to win the event. Terence Yeung of Canada had the deepest run from a North American. He lost 4-2 in the Quarterfinals to Tomas Martinko of the Czech Republic. Ultimately it was Brazil’s Guilherme Teodoro finishing first over Damir Akhmetsafin of Russia.
In Girls Singles, USA’s Amy Wang entered as the top seed. She started strong with two wins over Russian players (4-1 over Khurtsilava and 4-1 over Liubov). At this age, and this far away from home – players often start slow, or lose intensity after several matches. It was in her third match on Wednesday, and against the third Russian in a row, Wang fell just short. Natalia Malinina jumped out to an early lead by winning the first two games. Wang then fought back with two wins of her own. The fifth game was tight throughout, but it was Malinina that pulled out the 12-10 win in that game. Malinina then closed out the match in the sixth game. Malinina over Wang 4-2 (12, 6, -5, -9, 10, 7).
In Junior Girls Doubles, Amy Wang teamed with Hana Arapovic of Croatia. They won three matches on their way to the Finals, but had to settle for Runner-Up after falling 3-0 to the Russian Team of Abraamian and Tentser. In Junior Boys Doubles, Tran and Zarehbin teamed up and made a run to the Quarterfinals. The fell to the Czech team of Cernota/Stach. The event went to Brazil’s team of Teodoro and Tomoike who defeated the Russian team of Akhmetsafin and Cherkes 3-1.
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