Cathcart Claims Doubles Gold in Spain

Owen Cathcart claimed a memorable victory over the weekend as he and Norwegian partner Borgar Haug won Gold in the Cadet Boys Doubles event at the 2017 ITTF Spanish Youth Open, World Junior Circuit. 

This win secured an unprecedented back-to-back Junior Pro Tour title wins for the Ireland/Norway combination, following their recent success at the ITTF Belguim Junior Open.

The run towards gold was as expected, fraught with tough challenges. Wins over Thailand and German opponents saw them progress to the quarter finals where they were faced with the stern test of Oyebode/Gualdi (ITA). Despite the Italians holding a match point in the fourth set, Owen and Borgar battled back to win a tight duece before sealing a high quality match 11-9 in the 5th set.

With a medal now secure, the boys were in no mood to settle for bronze as they prepared to take on another highly rated pairing in Cavaille/Sabhi (FRA). They flew out of the blocks on the show court, overwhelming the French pairing with relentless pressure on their way to a straight sets, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9 victory. This performance paved the way for what was another excellent showing in the final, where they picked up from where they left off as they took on Martinko/Skala (CZE). Like the French, the Czechs had no answer for the outstanding service and receive of the Ireland and Norway pair, something which time and again proved decisive throughout the event.

Leading 2-0, the Czechs bounced back to put one set on the board, but this wasn’t enough as Owen and Borgar asserted themselves once again to seal the victory by a 3-1 scoreline (11-6, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6) and with it adding yet another World Junior Circuit title to their now growing collection!

For Owen, this wasn’t the only medal collected over the weekend as he and Borgar teamed up to take a hard fought Bronze in the Cadet Boys Team event, where they lost to Belguim 3-2 in the semi-final. They earlier enjoyed wins over Spain, Germany and Russia B on route to this stage. Despite impressive victories for both boys over Europes Number 1 ranked U14 player Adrien Rassenfosse, it wasn’t enough as a rare doubles defeat and singles losses to the in form Olav Kosolosky proved decisive.

This double-medal winning success in Spain has taken Owen Cathcart’s tally of World Junior Circuit Medals to 9 – an incredible achievement for the Belfast boy!

For the rest of the Irish squad in action in Platja D’Aro, there were many highlights despite this being a particularly tough World Junior Circuit event. 

The Cadet Girls Team of Mia O’Rahilly Egan, Sophie Earley and Nicole Scott fought valiantly in the team event, and despite 3-0 defeats to France and Spain, had many chances against quality opposition. Against Spain, both Mia and Sophie lost out over 5 tight sets in their singles matches, while Mia and Nicole went down 3-1. Most impressively, Mia later showed her potential at this level later in the day as she led 2-1 and 7-7 against France Number 1 and European Number 3 Prithika Pavade before eventually going down 3-2 – an incredible effort.

The boys pairing of Thomas Joyce and Art McLaughlin also showed promise in the team competition, despite competing above their age. Thomas Joyce lost out in 4 close sets against Thailand while they also paired up to great effect against top seeds Belguim, losing the doubles narrowly to the highly rated pair of Rassenfosse/Kosolosky.

Nicole Scott picked up an impressive win in the Cadet Girls Doubles alongside her USA partner as they overcame Beguims top pairing Dahy/Duvaill 3-0 before losing out to Bardsley (ENG)/Zaderova (CZE).

In the singles, Owen enjoyed wins over team event winner Makarov (RUS) and Hardmeier (SUI) before losing out in the Last 32 to Sabhi (FRA) in 5 close sets, 3-2. Elsewhere, Mia just fell short in her bid to qualify for the main draw as she lost out in a tight group match with Lai (CAN). Sophie also produced a notable performance here, taking the opening set against European Number 9 Camille Lutz – very impressive from the 11 year old. The other Irish players fought hard and will no doubt be back aiming to progress further when they come up against the worlds best next time around.