By Ian Gordon
Anna Hursey says keeping cool was key as she claimed her first title on the international stage with victory in the WTT Youth Contender tournament in Portugal.
The 14-year-old beat world No 10 Elena Zaharia of Romania – ranked 15 places above the Welsh ace in the ITTF lists – in the U17 girls singles in Vila Real on Sunday night.
Hursey led by two games in the final before her opponents took the match into a decider.
But Hursey, schooled in Cardiff but who has been training in Portugal recently, then saved two match points before winning 12-10 for a stunning upset victory.
“I’m very happy that I won,” said Hursey, believed to have become the youngest sportsperson to compete for Wales at the Commonwealth Games in 2018 aged just 11.
“I was super nervous. But I tried and managed not to show that. There were many upsets in this competition as a lot of high-level players and high seeded ones went out quite early.
“I had a very though match against Mia Griesel at the semi-finals but I managed to go through that.”
Hursey is also the first Welsh table tennis player to top the European rankings, being No 1 in the girls U15s where she is also four in the world.
But her hopes of adding a memorable double by winning the U15 girls title were dashed as her exploits over the 24 hours finally caught-up with the youngster.
Hursey lost her semi-final to Belgium’s Bianca Mei 3-2 missing out 11-8 in the decider having levelled the match in the fourth game.
After winning both her group games on Sunday, Hursey was handed a bye in Monday’s round of 32.
In the last 16, she beat Hungary’s Evelin Muller 3-0 before defeating Puerto Rico’s Kristal Melendez by the same score in the quarters.