Team Europe has finished a very successful day one at the WPA World 9-Ball Championships for Juniors. Out of 11 matches, 10 victories were taken with only one defeat to be recorded.
In the U17, Sanjin Pehlivanovic (7:0), Fedor Gorst (7:1) and Wiktor Zielinski (7:2) were able to come up with clear victories that were never compromised. The results speak for themselves. Kestutis Zadeikis had some more work to do though. He had a hill-hill thriller with Zhang Fan from China. Zadeikis showed a lot of fighting spirit in his match.
In the final rack, the pressure took its toll and Zadeikis missed an easy 6-ball. However, his Chinese opponent was also nervous and missed the 8-ball thereafter. With a bit of luck and a strong will, Zadeikis got back to the table and took the match with 9:8 in the end.
In the U19, things were not as clear as in the U17. Patrick Hofmann and Kostas Koukiadakis played their first World Championships ever. Hofmann could not find his peak performance in the beginning against his Canadian opponent Walleed Hashem. During the match however, he found his rhythm and took the match in the end with 9:5.
Koukiadakis started quite impressively and got a comfortable 5:1 lead over China’s Ding Wei. Suddenly, DING struck back and pulled rack after rack from Koukiadakis to tie the match after ten racks at 5:5. The pressure was on! Koukiadakis proved to be the one who handled the situation much better than his opponent and consequently overpowered him 9:6 after a tough fight.
Maksim Dudanets had no problems with Wu Junjie from China and clearly advanced to the next winner’s round finishing the match 9:3 in his favour. Poland’s Daniel Maciol, last year’s World Champion in the U17 category, played his first match in the U19 today. His opponent, Mi Le from China, was a huge challenge but Maciol made it very clear that he came to Shanghai for a reason. In the early stage of the match, both players ran their respective racks and not many mistakes were committed by either side. As the match went on, Maciol got the upper hand over Le and came out as the deserved 9:5 winner, closing the book on the match.
In the girls division, Diana Khodjaeva had to fight against her opponent as well as her injured shoulder which handicapped her a bit. Despite the pain, Khodjaeva finished Michelle Jiang from the United States 7:4 with a decent performance. Kristina Tkach took no prisoners and destroyed her opponent Vivian Liu (USA) 7:2.
The only European defeat of the day had to be accepted by Dina Fatikhova. She played against China’s Ma Jiao. The Chinese opened the match with a beautiful break-and-run and Fatikhova knew who she was up against. She did not let Ma’s play impress her too much and demonstrated a strong will to come up with her best performance. To her disliking, she missed a makable 9-ball while trailing 3:5. Instead of closing the gap 4:5, she now trailed 3:6 with Ma being on the hill. That mistake broke her neck in the match and allowed Ma to snatch the match relatively easy with 7:4 from her. Fatikhova now needs to seek her fortune on the loser’s side while all other European players are still alive in the winner’s bracket.
A great start into the World Championships from Team Europe! Carry on, guys and girls and award yourselves for the hard work you have put in over the last year!
Upcoming matches Friday November 18th:
Wiktor Zielinski (POL) v Kin Ling Yip (HKG)
Fedor Gorst (RUS) v Wang Guangyan (CHN)
Sanjin Pehlivanovic (BIH) v Shen Shenyi (CHN)
Kestutis Zadeikis (LIT) v Luo Li Yuan (TPE)
Dina Fatikhova (RUS) v Emily Herpel (USA)
Diana Khodjaeva (BEL) v Tiangi Shi (CHN)
Kristina Tkach (RUS) v Chen Chia Hun (TPE)
Kostas Koukiadakis (GRE) v Patrick Hofmann (GER)
Daniel Maciol (POL) v Lo Ho Sum (HKG)
Maksim Dudanets (RUS) v Ivan Augustin Brasca (ARG)
Photos © Alison Chang