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Saturday 28th January – Indore, India

Li Hsin-Yang and Minnie Soo Wai Yam win in Indore

Unexpected and expected; Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin-Yang won the Boys’ Singles title at the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Indore, India on Saturday 28th January; the success coming after Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam had secured the counterpart Girls’ Singles crown.

The win recorded by Li Hsin-Yang was somewhat of a surprise; he started proceedings as the no.8 seed, for Minnie Soo Wai Yam, it was as status predicted, she was the top seed.

After accounting for Japan’s Koyo Kanamitsu, the no.3 seed (12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8); Li Hsin-Yang overcame colleague, Lai Chi-Chien, the no.6 seed, to arrest the title (11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8). Earlier in the counterpart semi-final, Li Hsin-Yang had ended the progress of Romania’s Alexandru Manole, the no.5 seed (16-14, 8-11, 11-13, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7).

Seven games needed for Li Hsin-Yang to secure the title; it was rather less dramatic for Minnie Soo Wai Yam. In the title deciding contest, she overcame Japan’s Yuko Kato, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4), having one round earlier defeated Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.4 seed (11-7, 13-1, 13-11, 15-13). At the penultimate stage, Yuko Kato had beaten Chinese Taipei’s Fang Sih-Han, the no.7 seed (5-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9).

Success for Li Hsin-Yang over Lai Chi-Chien meant that it was the fourth time that players from Chinese Taipei had reached an ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles final and the third time they had won.

In 2004, Wu Chih-Chi was beaten in the final by Japan’s Seiya Kishikawa; two years later it was a different story. Chiang Hung-Chieh won in Vrsac Serbia in 2006 beating Kenta Matsudaira, also from Japan, in the final.

Gold in Vrsac for Chinese Taipei; it was same in January 2012 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Hung Tzu-Hsiang overcame Korea’s Choi Deokhwa to reserve the top step of the podium.

It is the first time there has been an all-Chinese Taipei ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles final and only the second time, that players from the same national association have contested the title. In January 2015 in Asuncion, Paraguay, an all-Japanese affair saw Yuto Kizukuri beat Tonin Ryuzaki to claim the top prize.

Overall, it is the fifth time that Chinese Taipei has won gold at the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals. In San Juan, Chen Szu-Yu beat Singapore’s Isabelle Siyun Li to win the Girls’ Singles title; three years later in Asuncion, Huang Yi-Chao followed suit. She overcame Japan’s Ayane Morita to win gold.

Meanwhile, in the Girls’ Singles event, Minnie Soo Wai Yam continued Hong Kong’s run of success.

One year ago, also in India, Zhu Chengzhu accounted for Korea’s Park Seri to clinch the top prize; two years previously in Vilanova de Gaia, Portugal, Doo Hoi Kem claimed the title by overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yi-Hua.

Only in one other edition have players from Hong Kong reached the title deciding contest. In the 2010 Finals, it was defeat at the hands of Japan. Chiu Chung-Hei was beaten in the Boys’ Singles final by Misaki Yoshida, Lee Ho Ching in the Girls’ Singles gold medal contest by Kasumi Ishikawa.

The city was Hyderabad, the country was India; in Indore in January 2017, one table turned.



Indore, India – Thursday 26th January

Leading names fall, last eight places in balance

Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the top seed and Japan’s Koyo Kanamitsu, the third seed, ended the opening day of play, Thursday 26th January, at the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Indore, India, unbeaten; quarter-final places beckon.

However, for Japan’s Yukiya Uda, the no.2 seed and Germany’s Tobias Hippler, the no.4 seed, progress to the last eight remains very much in the balance.

Both experienced surprise defeats. Yukiya Uda, after beating Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, the no.9 seed (11-9, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9), experienced a surprise reverse at the hands of Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin-Yang, the no.8 seed (4-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-4, 13-11).

A shock win for Li Hsin-Yang, earlier it had been a shock defeat, he was beaten by the host nation’s in form Ronit Bhanja, the no.13 seed; a player who delighted in upsetting the order of merit.

He accounted for Li Hsin-Yang in a hard fought seven games duel (11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8), before causing yet another upset by overcoming Yanapong Panagitgun (11-7, 11-7, 11-13, 11-5, 11-7) to complete the day unbeaten.

In the remaining matches in the group, Li Hsin-Yang meets Yanapong Panagitgun; Yukiya Uda faces Ronit Bhanja.

The hopes Li Hsin-Yang to reserve a last eight place remain open, for colleague, Lai Chi-Chien, that possibility is even more assured.

Occupying the no.6 seeded position, after overcoming Qatar’s Nawaf Al-Malki, the no.16 seed (11-4, 11-9, 11-3, 11-6), he upset the order of merit by beating Germany’s Tobias Hippler, the no.4 seed (13-11, 11-5, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8).

Defeat but as with Yukiya Uda, a place in the last eight is still open for Tobias Hippler; in his opening contest he accounted for Bahrain’s Rashed Sanad, the no.11 seed (11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 12-10, 11-8).

One win apiece for Tobias Hippler and Rashed Sanad; in the concluding group stage contests, Lai Chi-Chien meets Rashed Sanad, Tobias Hippler opposes Nawaf Al-Malki.

Players finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups advance to the last eight; the quarter-finals will be played on Friday 27th January.




Indore, India – Thursday 26th January

Archana Girish Kamath, a star is born

Responding to the challenge presented, the host nation’s Archana Girish Kamath emerged as the star name on the opening day of play, Thursday 26th January, at the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Indore, India.

The no.8 seed, after accounting for Portugal’s Raquel Andrade, the no.15 seed in her opening contest (15-13, 11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8); she caused a major upset by overcoming Hong Kong’s Mak Tze Wing, the no.2 seed, and silver medallist some six weeks ago at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships in Cape Town.

Impressively Archana Girish Kamath won in six games (10-12, 12-10, 11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-5) to end the day unbeaten. Defeat for Mak Tze Wing but the door to the main draw is not closed; in her opening group phase contest, she accounted for Amy Wang of the United States, the no.9 seed (11-8, 13-11, 11-4, 11-5).

Two players from each of the four groups advance to the quarter-finals. In the remaining contests to determine the final outcome, Amy Wang who beat Raquel Andrade the no.15 seed (13-15, 12-10, 11-3, 11-9, 11-9), faces Archana Girish Kamath; Mak Tze Wing confronts Raquel Andrade.

One upset amongst the leading names but not in the other three groups in the Girls’ Singles event. Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the top seed and also from Hong Kong, remained unbeaten, as did the next two names in the order of merit, Japan’s Kana Takeuchi and Romania’s Andreea Dragoman.

However, for Kana Takeuchi there were some nervous moments; she needed the full seven games to beat Andreea Dragoman’s colleague, Andreea Clapa, the no.11 seed (15-13, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-4, 11-4).

A close call but it was even closer for Kana Takeuchi’s colleague, Yuko Kato, the no.5 seed, the player who had ended the year in top spot on the Standings.

She overcame Australia’s Wu Jiamura by the very narrowest of margins (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 12-10), a win that could prove vital in her quest for a quarter-final place. In her very next match, she was beaten by Andreea Dragoman (9-11, 11-5, 4-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9).

Play in the initial group stage concludes on Friday 27th January.