Zhou Qihao, the Boys' Singles champion at the ITTF Cadet Challenge
Photo By: Quique Aparici
2011 ITTF Global Cadet Challenge & Global Junior Circuit Finals (Click here to access this section)
Representing Asia, China’s Zhou Qihao, who had celebrated his 15th birthday on Thursday 12th January, had further cause to celebrate ten days later on Sunday 22nd January 2012.
He won the Boys’ Singles title at the ITTF Cadet Challenge in the Puerto Rican capital city of San Juan, beating Korea’s Kim Min Hyeok in a contest where he had to recover from a two games to nil deficit to secure a six games win. Tested by the athletic Korea, Zhou Qihao recovered to win 6-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7.
Gold in the Boys’ Singles event but in the Boys’ Doubles competition he had to settle for the silver medal.
Success for Europe
Partnering India’s Abishek Yadav, the pair suffered a four games defeat (matches in the doubles being best of five games) against the European partnership of France’s Andrea Landrieu and Portugal’s Diogo Chen.
Andrea Landrieu and Diogo Chen won 11-9, 11-8, 9-11, 11-3.
Weathered the Storm
In the Boys’ Singles final, it was a case of weathering the storm for Zhou Qihao against Kim Min Hyeok.
The Korea attacked all guns blazing from the very start of proceedings; he was under no pressure, he was not expected to win. Undoubtedly the speed of Kim Min Hyeok combined with the odd risk and outrageous block upset the rhythm of the Chinese teenager. He won the first two games.
Zhou Qihao, in Jean-Michel Saive style, was forced to execute top spins away from the table, he was made to fight and like the Belgian hero he fought.
Unquestionably, the crucial stage of the contest came in the third game after Kim Min Hyeok had established a two games to nil lead.
Fighting for his life, Zhou Qihao led 10-7, then lost the next two points, the first an outrageous block from Kim Min Hyeok which left him flat footed. The next point went to the Korean and then pinned to the surrounds, Zhou Qihao won the next point and thus the game.
Gradually, the consistency of Zhou Qihao was paying dividends, he won the fourth and fifth games; then in the sixth, he moved ahead 6-3.
Kim Min Hyeok took “Time Out” but he was never able to level.
At 10-7 Zhou Qihao held three match points, his counter topspin play reminiscent of the master Wang Liqin. He needed just one chance, he seized the chance.
Diogo Chen (left) serves, Andrea Landrieu (right) waits to pounce Photo by Quique Aparici
The win was a seeding predicted, the top seed prevailed but in the Cadet Boys’ Doubles event that was not the case; the pair at the top of the list suffered against the second seed.
Andrea Landrieu and Diogo Chen, in harness for the first time ever, were immediately in harmony.
Incredible Fourth Game
The first two games in the final were close but both went to the Europeans.
The Asian duo recovered to win the third game when an attempted a short push from Zhou Qihao clipped the top of the net, trickled over and proved impossible to return.
A life line, it was not; in the deciding fifth game the Europeans sped into a 9-1 lead; in the blink of any eyelid the gold medal was in sight.
Two match points were saved but not a third, the Boys’ Doubles title was in European hands, the grateful hands of Andrea Landrieu and Diogo Chen.
Visit itTV for Interviews with Zhou Qihao, Andrea Landrieu and Diogo Chen
For interview with Zhou Qihao, Andrea Landrieu and Diogo Chen, click on itTV and go to the channel Juniors, interviews on left hand side menu under 2011 ITTF Global Cadet Challenge and Global Junior Circuit - Interviews