During her first international appearances she immediately impressed and showed she has a great potential to be a future star. Who? Annett Kaufmann from Germany.
Annett´s is a left handed player with offensive style. She stays close to the table and hit the ball early after bounce. Her strongest weapon is her forehand loop and her tactical adaption to the opponent´s weaknesses during the games. And her safety. She seldom gives the opponent points by easy misses.
After some catch-eyeing results on a local and regional level Annett Kaufmann made her first appearance on the European scene in August 2016, when she participated in Euro Minichamps in Schiltigheim, France, in the yearly and unofficial European Championships for players aged 10 and 11. She played in the age category 2005, where most of her 96 opponents were one year older.
Her strongest weapon is her forehand loop and her tactical adaption to the opponent´s weaknesses during the games.
The goal before the tournament was to reach the play off round, where 32 girls qualified. The path to reach this play off stage was eight matches long. First Annett beat Aurelie Lemeri, France, Caterina Angeli, Italy and Liliana Nagy of Hungary – all in three straight games. Then Louise Saguet from France and Julie van Hawaert, Belgium, also in straight games. In the third round of group play Annett was really challenged though. She lost to the “odd” styled Eszter Demjen of Romania, and then was forced to beat Clarissa Roy Stroeymeyte from France to grab one of the 32 play off places. Annett managed to carry the pressure and won 3-1.The goal of the tournament was reached!
„From then on we regarded all victories as bonus“, said Florian Grünewald, Annett´s coach in the home club TTC Bietigheim-Bissingen, who also coached her in Schiltigheim.
And what a bonus it became!
Annett easily defeated Soleane Anciaux of Belgium in the first play off round, then lost the first game to Italy´s Chiara Rensi, but turned the match wonderfully, winning 3-1 and being ready for the quarter finals.There waited Boroka Mike, number one in her age in Romania, which for many years has been one of the very strongest countries in Europe when it comes down to female table tennis.
It was a thrilling match that went over five games. After winning one game each clearly Annett managed to conquer the crucial third game with 12-10, and at the end the decisive fifth game 11-7.
In the semi´s versus Russia´s Karina Iusupova Annett Kaufmann once again showed strong nerves. Losing the first game at 6, the standing went to 10-10 in the second. Annett was the safer of the two, won the third game, and then 11-7 in the fourth to make the finals.
There Annett and her coach Florian Grünewald were quite convinced to meet Anastasia Beresneva, but the Russian girl surprisingly lost to Loa-Line Frete of France, who had an unsual type of playing, and long pimples out on the backhand side, which made the ball difficult to return.Annett did not really got convenient to the spin and the different orbits of the ball, and lost in four tight games.
“Before the match I thought it should be difficult for Annett to read the ball against the special playing style of Frete”, said coach Ferdinand Grünewald. “But Annett made it very well considering how rarely she encounters such type of players.
The crucial moment in the finals, played on one table in front of at least 500 spectators, was when Annett at 1-1 in games had 10-9 and game ball for a 2-1 lead. Then Frete played an unreachable ball which hit the net which confused Annett. There after the French girl could win the game and the fourth game at 8.
“Of course there was some disappointment directly after the loss, but with some prospective Annett made an extra ordinary debut on the European level. She came in second among 97 players, and also being one year younger than most of them. I felt she grew a bit as a player through every match in the tournament.”
And some two months later Annett got her revenge against Loa-Line Frete. At the Stiga Master Minimes in Belgium, where the top players in Europe born 2005-2006 gathered, Annett find a solution of the difficulties against Frete´s style and crushed her – 11-6, 11-5, 11-2.
In the semi´s in Belgium the young German had a hard battle against French Charlotte Lutz, and lost 8-11 in the fifth and decisive game. Lutz later beat Beresneva in the finals, Beresneva in her turn conquered Annett Kaufmann´s country fellow Laura Kaim in her semi finals.
For sure these girls will fight each other in tough matches all the way to the senior top level.
She came in second among 97 players, and also being one year younger than most of them. I felt she grew a bit as a player through every match in the tournament