European Youth Championships 2021

Club Players Owen, James, Sophie and Anjali were selected to represent Ireland and the European Youth Championships (EYC) in Croatia between 18th July – 2nd August 2021. First to play was the boys between 18th July – 24th July 2021.

The team event was first up on Ireland’s list. The boys had Lithuania and Latvia in their group. Taking on Lithuania in the morning of Sunday 18th, Owen started off strong and won both his matches against; Rokas KISIELIUS 3-2 (8/11, 11/7, 9/11, 11/0,11/5) and Lukas RIMKUS 3-0 (11/5, 11/9, 12/10). Unfortunately, this just wasn’t enough to beat Lithuania overall losing in a tight 2-3.

Later on, in their second group match as the boys beat Latvia 3-1. Continuing his winning streak Owen won his two matches against Deniss VASILJEVS 3-0 (11/4, 11/5, 11/8) and Daniels KOGANS 3-2 (11/9, 9/11, 11/4, 8/11, 11/7) James played his first match against KOGANS, after a good fight and tight match unfortunately KOGANS was just a bit stronger, although James lost 1-3, it was a tight game and just lost out (7/11, 11/7, 12/14, 4/11).

With a victory over Latvia this allowed the Irish team to play for 5th-8th position on Monday 19th. Unfortunately, the top positions just weren’t meant for the boys losing 0-3 against Croatia. Owen’s unfortunately lost his match against Borna PETEK 1-3 (11/8, 9/11, 2/11, 4/11). That afternoon the boys then played against Finland for positions 17th-32nd position. After a good fight and tight sets it just wasn’t meant for the boys as they lost 2-3. James put up a great fight against Aleksi RASANEN, although James lost 0-3, he still put on a great s how going down(10/12, 6/11, 4/11).

Tuesday 20th had Luxembourg instore for the boys battling for 25th-32nd position. It was a good turn around for the boys as they beat Luxembourg 3-1. Owen had a good run and won his two matches against Jaob BJURSTROM 3-0 (11/1, 11/7, 11/2) and Mael VAN DESSEL 3-2 (5/11, 6/11, 13/11, 11/7, 11/5). James had a brilliant game against Loris STEPHANY winning 3-2, 11/5, 8/11,8/11, 17/15, after a tight forth set this really set James up to win the final set 11-2.

After a great win against Luxembourg this set the boys up to play in the 25th-28th position. After a good fight the boys lost out against Greece 0-3, left them in 27th position and ahead of the other home countries. The boys took the rest of the day to relax and get ready for the rest of the tournament as they had mix doubles, doubles and singles to go

In the mix doubles Owen and partner Martine TOFTAKER (NOR) had a brilliant run winning against the following players:

      Last 128 against Ozgur YILMAZ+Yagmur SEVVAL KARACA(TUR) 3-0 (11/4 11/2 11/7)

      Last 64 against Akos BENKO and Reka BEZEG (SRB) 3-0 (13/11 11/7 11/5)

      Last  32 against John OYEBODE (ITA) and Darya KISEL (BLR) 3-1 (11/3 11/3 8/11 11/7) 

 

Moving into the Last 16 Owen and Martine came up against Russin pair: Damir AKHMETSAFIN and Liubov TENTSER. After a tight match the pair unfortunately lost out on that coveted Quarter-Final spot 1-3 (7/11, 11/7, 7/11, 9/11)

Owen and experienced doubles partner Borgar HAUG (Nor) started off with a great first match in the Last 64 against Spanish pair Miguel NUNEZ and Juan PEREZ winning 3-0 (11/6, 11/9, 11/8). 

Progressing into the Last 32 the boys unfortunately just lost out in reaching the Quarter Final at the skin of their teeth against French partners Alexis KOURAICHI + Benjamin FRUCHART in a tight knit match losing 2-3 (8/11 11/6 11/13 11/5 10/12).

Next up on the boys list was last but not least the Singles. Due to ranking Owen was straight into the Last 128. James competed in his groups on Wednesday 21st against Juan PEREZ (Esp) and Ingi DARVIS RODRIGOEZ (Isl). First playing against PEREZ, unfortunately James just wasn’t able to get into it and lost 0-3 (3/11, 3/11, 4/11). But soon pulled it back with a brilliant match against DARVIS RODRIGOEZ winning 3-2 (13/15, 14/12, 11/8, 8/11, 11/7). After a great win this allowed James to progress into the Last 128.

James’ next match was up against the German; Hannes HOERMANN. James put up a brilliant fight with close sets unfortunately it just didn’t go his way losing 0-4 (5/11, 9/11, 6/11, 7/11). Unfortunately, this meant James’ time had ended at EYC. James should be very proud of how far he came with this being his 1st international tournament in a 18 months. Many positive points to come back home with.

“We played the team event first and we had a group with Latvia and Lithuania, we beat Latvia to top the group. We had a thought game against Croatia for the playoff match who were very strong and we lost 3-0. However, I felt the team event prepared me well for the singles and I got through my first group, I played a good German in the last 128 and lost but I definitely enjoyed the trip and have lots of stuff to work on for next year” – James Skelton

With Owen only beginning his Singles in the last 128, his first match was against Eren BEKIR (Bul), steady enough this allowed Owen to get back into the grove off things after his doubles winning 4-0 (11/4, 11/7, 11/7, 11/2). Moving into last 64, Owens next match was against Mikhail TSYHANOUSKI (BLR). Owen keeping strong with another 4-1 win (11/3, 11/8, 6/11, 11/5, 11/7). Owen then faced French; Thibault PORET, in very close sets Owen just missed out booking a spot in the quarterfinal spot losing 1-4 (13/11, 12/14, 5/11, 4/11, 8/11). Owen had a great tournament and should be happy with the wins he earned.

“It was my first tournament back in around 1 and a half years a little more. So, I was more trying to find my match play and allow it to come back. Level wise I did not play my best or how I would normally play but I fought good and just found a way to win many matches! However, it’s exciting to have competed again and to have got rid of the match rust! I look forward now to competing more and making good results and getting better all the time!” – Owen Cathcart

Tuesday 27th July started the cadet girls team event. Ireland where top of their group to which they had Latvia and Serbia. First up was Serbia. The girls just missed out in this win by losing 2-3. Sophie won her first 2 games against Jelena STEFANOVIC 3-0 (11/6, 11/5, 11/3) and Sara RADAK 3-1 (9/11, 11/8, 11/7, 11/5), Next up was Anjali plating her first ever Europeans and with a brilliant fight she came against two more experienced players and lost 0-3 against RADAK (6/11, 5/11, 3/11) and STEFANOVIC 0-3 (5/11, 5/11, 7/11). Middle of the game the girls played doubles, unfortunately the girls just lost out in this match which could have put them in a good position to win the overall game. Losing 2-3 (7/11, 8/11, 11/7, 11/6, 8/11).

Later on, in the day things started to look up for the girls as the beat Latvia 3-1! Sophie keeping her winning streak going and winning both of her matches against Aleksandra JERSOVA 3-0 (11/6, 11/2, 13/11) and Franciska LININA 3-0 (11/2, 11/8, 11/6). Anjali came up against LININA unluckily losing 0-3 but had put up a great fight with the sets (6/11 14/16, 6/11). As the girls won the doubles on a tight knit game 3-2 (11/9, 8/11, 11/8, 9/11, 12/10) this meant the girls had won overall!

With a win over Latvia, unfortunately this just wasn’t enough to get a place into the top draw. On Wednesday 28th the girls came up against Netherlands for positions 17-32. The girls just lost out on this win losing 2-3. Sophie continuing a clean sweep won both her matches against Xijin ZHENG 3-0 (11/6, 11/7, 11/6) and Tanya MISCONI 3-0 (11/6, 11/2, 11/2). The Netherlands pair put together just pulled it out to win the doubles 0-3 (4/11, 7/11, 5/11). Anjlai had put up a great fight just unluckily losing against MISCONI 1-3 (6/11, 11/9, 7/11, 7/11) and ZHENG 0-3 (2/11, 6/11, 0/11).

The next day Lithuania was next on the girls list for Positions 25-26. With some great points, Anjali just lost out in her two matches against Lukrecija JUCHNAITE 0-3 (1/11, 11/13, 5/11) and Gabija ABARAVICIUTE 0-3 (4/11, 8/11, 8/11). Sophie fought hard against ABARAVICIUTE unfortunately ABARAVICIUTE was just a bit stronger on the day meaning Sophie lost 1-3 (7/11, 11/7, 6/11, 4/11). However, Sophie brought it back against her match with JUCHNAITE winning 3-2 (5/11, 11/13, 15/13, 13/11, 11/8). The girls pulled together for the doubles to get a great 3-1 win (9/11, 11/6, 11/7, 11/6). With a great fight and tight sets, the win just wasn’t meant to be for the girls this time round, giving them a position of 26th in the Cadet Girls Team Event.

 After a some rest the girls refocused themselves to prepare for the Mix Doubles, Doubles and Singles. In the mix doubles Anjali was partnered up with Arturs SPALIS (LAT), straight into the main draw of the last 128. Unfortunately it just wasn’t to be for the pair as they lost 0-3 to Nazarii SOLODKYI + Sofiia SHEREDEHA (UKR) (3/11 5/11 1/11). Sophie and Spanish partner Daniel BERZOSA where straight into the Last 64 against Andrej MILOSEVIC + Martina OSTOJIC (MNE). With an easy 3-0 win (11/6, 11/3, 11/3), the pair where through to the Last 32 against the Russian pair Serafim ORLOV + Zlata TEREKHOVA. With a close game the Russian pair came out on top with a 0-3 win (8/11, 8/11, 9/11).

Saturday 31st July brought the Cadet Girls Doubles. Anjali was partnered up with Rachelle HAZEE (Bel). First round of the last 64 the girls beat Ema CRNKOVIČ + Lana SLATINSEK (SLO) 3-0 (11/7, 11/9, 11/6). Moving into the Last 32, the girls came up against German pair Mia GRIESEL + Faustyna STEFANSKA. Unfortunately, the Last 16 just wasn’t meant for the girls as they lost 0-3 (9/11, 3/11, 2/11).

Sophie and Spanish partner Silvia COLL, started in the Last 32 against pair Adela SAZIMOVA + Vendula SICHANOVA (CZE). Off to a great start the girls won 3-0 (11/7, 11/8 11/3), moving into the last 16 the girls kept going to win 3-1 against the French pair Lenan HOCHART + Gaetane BLED (10/12, 11/7, 11/4, 11/9). With a great win the girls moved up into the Quarter Finals against pair Sara TOKIC + Enya MOLTARA (SLO). EARLEY and partner COLL just meshed together taking the doubles win of their career 3-0 (11/7, 11/4, 11/9) to claim their place in the Semi-Final!

Unfortunately, the Gold or Silver medal just wasn’t meant for the pair as they lost out in a great fight 0-3 against Annett KAUFMANN (GER) + Bianca MEI ROSU (ROU) (7/11, 10/12, 3/11). Although the girls lost, getting to the Semi-Final of the Cadet Girls Doubles was a monumental and historic achievement as Sophie and Silvia have made history for Ireland to bring home its first ever EYC medal!!

Into the singles, Anjali was delt with a tough group. First group match against Adela SAZIMOVA (CZE), Anjali was able to get her game going just to unluckily lose 0-3 (8/11,7/11,6/11). Next up was against Lukrecija JUCHNAITE (LTU), unfortunately, JUCHNAITE was just too strong this time round losing 0-3 (3/11, 1/11,3/11). 

Last match for Anjali was against Jennifer HENNING (AUT). Anjali without a doubt put out a good fight against HENNING, just losing out 1-3 (4/11, 11/7, 3/11, 9/11). Although the results may not show it without a doubt Anjali played amazing, and put up an amazing fight for each match! Anjali should be very proud of how she played with her 1st European Championships and definitely positives to take back home to work with.

I was very glad to get opportunity to represent Ireland in Euro Youth Championships. I had to partner with Sophie Earley who is a role model to me. The tournament was awesome and featured lots of talented players. Whilst watching and playing the different styles play made the tournament interesting and informative, this made the tournament diverse and enjoyable. Conn Higgins was our coach was excellent and had lots of experience. We had few good wins and loses in team events. We lost close matches against Netherlands and Serbia but won against Latvia ultimately, we ended up at 26th position. I played individual singles and doubles too. The level was very high but I still finished in top 32 in doubles. Sophie was excellent throughout the tournament and won bronze in singles and doubles. I had the privileged to watch such high-quality matches. Overall, this tournament was great learning experience, and I am delighted to be have been involved in this event. I am really thankful to Keith, Gervis, Conn, Zak, Thomas and OTTC players for preparing me for this tournament.” – Anjali Singh

Sophie’s first round of singles started on Saturday 31st July, and with Sophie’s ranking, Sophie was straight through to the Last 64, without knowing this is where Sophie would have double history for Ireland at the EYC. Sophie had a great run with her first four rounds of matches

        Last 64 against Loana BAIASU (ROU) 4-0 (11/8, 11/6, 11/4, 11/9)

        Last 32 against Zlata TEREKHOVA (RUS) 4-1 (12/10, 9/11, 11/6, 11/8, 11/4)

        Last 16 against Lilou MASSART (BEL) 4-0 (11/9, 11/7, 11/8, 11/4)

        Quarter Final against Gaetane BLED (FRA) 4-0 (11/9, 11/5,11/5,12/10)

With Sophie winning her Singles Quarterfinal this meant she had done the double and made history for Ireland. Not only did Sophie make history by bringing home a medal from the Cadet Girl’s Doubles with Partner Silvia Coll (ESP), but Sophie was also bringing home another guaranteed medal! Sophie’s semi-final was against German Annett KAUFMANN. With a brilliant fight unfortunately the Gold or Silver just wasn’t meant to be for Sophie with the result 1-4 (11/9, 7/11, 2/11, 9/11, 6/11). Sophie put up a great fight for every point against KAUFMANN who then went on to win the tournament.

“Overall, I’m so happy with how I performed at the euros! I took one match at a time and worked for every point. I felt mentally stronger in this tournament than previous tournaments and for me this is why I was able to win 2 bronze medals.” – Sophie Earley

This is an amazing achievement Sophie has accomplished and should be enormously proud of the outcome.

The Coaches and Players at Ormeau are extremely proud of not only Sophies achievements but the other players outcomes and performances!

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