Euro U17 & U19 Champs light up Leuven
As has become tradition over the past decade day 2 at the Yonex Belgian International marks the real start to a new season as all the circuit big guns get a chance to flex their muscles after the summer break. September each year also sees the emergence of some new pairings in the doubles disciplines and the chance for junior stars to mix it up with the seniors as they dip their toes in the senior waters.
This year more than any it was the European U17’s and U19’s that stole the show on day two in Belgium with both U17 men’s and women’s champions fighting through to the quarter finals after both coming through yesterday’s qualification.
Line Christophersen dominated both her day 2 main draw matches seeing off Kristen Kuuba of Estonia in two games before wearing down fellow Dane Irina Amalie Andersen in their last 16 match. Christophersen took a close opener against Andersen 21-19 before powering into an early lead in the second. Andersen was forced to retire trailing 14-4 but at that stage the writing was already on the wall with Christopersen dominating.
Christophersen now goes forward to play European U19 champion Julie Dawall Jakobsen in tomorrow’s quarter final after the Jakobsen destroyed sixth seed Indian Kudaravalli in two quick games.
Mirroring Christophersen’s feat was Ireland’s Nhat Nguyen. The Irish U17 European men’s singles champion has really made his mark this week dominating his qualification group before winning both his main draw matches today with the composure of a seasoned pro.
Nguyen is certainly one to watch for the future and the Irish man won’t be out of his depth in tomorrow’s quarter final against Harsheel Dani of India.
“I enjoyed my matches today even though I got nervous at some points in both matches. It is all to play for tomorrow and I think I will be the underdog but I will also have that element of surprise as not many will know me.”
Euro junior men’s singles champion Toma Junior Popov came unstuck in round two but not without a fight. The French man went down to former world number 2 Kento Momota in two games but left the court with his head held high after troubling the Japanese superstar for periods throughout the match.
In one of the final matches of the evening European U19 women’s champions Emma Karlsson and Johanna Magnusson (pictured above) rounded off a great day for the European young guns taking their second round tie in three games.
For all results from day 2 in Belgium click HERE
For a photo gallery from today’s action at Yonex Belgian International click HERE
Article and images by Mark Phelan (Live in Leuven)