> News


Ivan Nikulin and Vladislav Samsonov Cause First Day Surprises in St Petersburg

Russia's Ivan Nikulin and Vladislav Samsonov were the players to cause the major upsets on the first day of play, Tuesday 25th November, at the Russian Junior and Cadet Open, 15th Nikolay Memorial Tournament in St Petersburg.

Both remained unbeaten to finish in top places in their respective groups, en route both recorded significant victories.

Ivan Nikulin beat Aliaksandr Khanin of Belarus, the top seed, in three straight games (11-6, 12-10, 11-7); whilst Vladislav Samsonov accounted for the host nation's Artur Abusev, the no.3 seed, in a close full distance five games duel (9-11, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-9).

Notable Results
A notable win for Vladislav Samsonov and a notable performance from Ivan Nikulin; Artur Abusev was a member of the European outfit that won silver at the recent ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Bridgetown, Barbados, whilst Ivan Nikulin completed his first stage matches with the loss of a single individual game.

In addition to his win over Aliaksandr Khanin, he overcame Estonia's Oleg Migunov (11-3, 11-3, 11-9) and colleague Dmitrij Petruk (11-5, 11-9, 11-6).

Likewise, in his two remaining first phase matches Vladislav Samsonov was in fine form. He beat Artsiom Lohvinau of Belarus (11-3, 11-6, 11-5) and Russia's Dmitry Gorbunov (11-3, 11-7, 11-5).

Leading Names Progress
Two surprise first places but not where the other leading names were concerned it was first place as status predicted.

Estonia's Aleksandr Lusin, the no.2 seed, duly finished in first place in his group as did Russia's Denis Ivonin, the no.4 seed.

Likewise, it was first place for the next four in the order of merit. Russia's Danila Travin and Maksim Kiselev, alongside Israel's Mathan Simon and Artem Zimarin, also from Russia duly secured pole positions in their respective groups.

Likewise Two Upsets
Two surprises amongst the leading names in the first stage of the Junior Boys' Singles event, it was the same for the girls. The host nation's Ulyana Volkova and Anastasia Lekomtceva were the players to cause the upsets.

Ulyana Volkova beat colleague Anastasia Kolish, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-8); Anastasia Lekomtceva accounted for Israel's Neli Shoifer, the no.8 seed (12-14, 11-6, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9).

Both duly topped their groups. Ulyana Volkova overcame Maryia Haletskaya of Belarus (11-5, 11-4, 11-1) and Russia's Anastasia Volenko (11-3, 11-4, 11-5); Anastasia Lekomtceva accounted for Russian adversaries. She beat Anna Zubcova (14-12, 11-6, 11-6) and Ekaterina Sergeeva (8-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-9).

First Places
Otherwise, as with the boys, the leading names secured first places in their respective groups.

It was top spot for the Belarus trio of Alina Nikitchanka, Daria Trigolos and Hanna Patseyeva; as it was for the Russian duo of Elina Rub and Daria Chernoray. Similarly, not to be upstaged, Israel's Shelli Gelman reserved the first position in her group.

Meanwhile, in both the Junior Boys' Doubles and Junior Girls' Doubles events, there was one upset in each competition as matters progressed to the semi-final stage.

Anton Kotov and Ilya Isakov, the no.3 seeds, suffered a surprise quarter-final defeat at the hands of Israel's Mathan Simon and Avi Ben Ari (11-9, 11-4, 11-8); whilst in the Junior Girls' Doubles competition the latter's colleagues Shelli Gelman and Neli Shoifer, also the no.3 seeds, departed in round two.

They were beaten by Russia's Victorya Kandybina and Ekaterina Zironova (11-7, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7).

A surprise win for the non-seeded duo but their euphoria was short lived. In the very next round they were beaten by colleagues Vasilia Trukhankina and Elizaveta Medvedeva (12-10, 11-8, 11-8).

In the penultimate round, Vasilia Trukhankina and Elizaveta Medvedeva meet Daria Trigolos and Lizaveta Tsikhanavava of Belarus, the no.2 seeds; in the opposite half of the draw, Alina Nikitchanka and Hanna Patseyeva, the top seeds and also from Belarus, face Russia's Anastasia Kolish and Anastasia Komonova, the no.4 seeds.

Meanwhile, at the semi-final stage of the Junior Boys' Doubles event, Russia's Denis Ivonin and Danila Travin, the top seeds, oppose Israel's Mathan Simon and Avi Ben Ari; Aliaksandr Khanin and Nikita Vilenchyts of Belarus the no.2 seeds, confront the host nation's Maksim Kiselev and Aleksandr Tiutriumov, the no.4 seeds.

Junior Events Conclude
Play in in the Junior Boys' Singles, Junior Girls' Singles, Junior Boys' Doubles and Junior Girls' Doubles events conclude on Wednesday 26th November.

Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor