Lai Yi-Yao on the brink of qualification for the ITTF Junior Circuit Finals
Photo By: Thomas Nguyen
The top seed at the Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open but beaten by compatriot Huang Chien-Tu, the champion elect, at the semi-final stage, Chinese Taipei’s Lai Yi-Yao has increased his chances of a return visit to the Central American country in January 2013.
Guatemala will host the ITTF Junior Circuit Finals, in Guatemala City, from Friday 25th to Sunday 29th January 2013; Lai Yi-Yao, as a result of his penultimate round finish, is now at no.16 on the ITTF Junior Circuit Boys’ Standings.
He possesses 1,260 points and is one place ahead of Huang Chien-Tu who enters the race with 1,250 points. Both are in contention for a place in the Finals but their qualification is on a knife-edge.
Maximum of Two Players
The top 16 players qualify for the Finals.
However there are provisos. Each of the six continents who are members of the International Table Tennis Federation must be represented and a maximum of two players from any one national association is eligible.
Equally one place is reserved for the host and players must have competed in at least two continents.
Lai Yi-Yao who prior the tournament in Guatemala had competed in Thailand and the United States has more than met the continental criteria.
He has now competed on three continents.
However, for Huang Chien-Tu, the Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open was his 2012 ITTF Junior Circuit debut.
The decision as to the qualifiers will be made after the Bahrain Junior and Cadet Open which concludes on Sunday 18th November 2012 and it is more than likely that one of the two young men who excelled in Guatemala will miss out.
Huang Tzu-Hsiang, also from Chinese Taipei, the winner of the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the ITTF Junior Circuit Finals earlier this year in Puerto Rico, currently stands in third spot on the Standings with 3,190 points.
Only two players from any one national association invited, the pressure increases on the shoulders of Lai Yi-Yao and Huang Chien-Tu.
Progress for Lai Yi-Yao and there is also progress for Sweden’s Jonas Stener, India’s Utkarsh Gupta and New Zealand’s Levin Wu.
Jonas Stener, beaten by Lai Yi-Yao in the quarter-finals in Guatemala climbs from no.53 to no.35 and has 900 points; one place lower is Utkarsh Gupta, he enters proceedings with 875 points; whilst Kevin Wu climbs from no.80 to no.39.
Utkarsh Gupta, who beat Kevbin Wu in the Junior Boys’ Singles quarter-finals in Guatemala was the eventual runner up in Guatemala, beaten by Huang Chien-Tu
Brazil’s Hugo Calderano (4,470 points) and Eric Jouti (4,050 points) continue to lead the field ahead of Chinese Taipei’s Hung Tzu-Hsiang (3,190) points, Hong Kong’s Chiu Chung-Hei (2,475 points) and Japan’s Yuto Higashi (2,100 points).
Singapore’s Xin Zhaoxu is in sixth place with 1,900 points.
No Change at Top
No change at the top of the Junior Boys’ Standings, it is the same on the Junior Girls’ Standings.
Following her semi-final finish in Guatemala, Puerto Rico’s Carelyn Cordero confirms her second spot with 2,910 points behind Singapore’s Zhou Yihan who has 4,000 points.
Zhou Yihan was not present in Guatemala and neither were any of the other leading names.
Marina Berho of France remains in third place (2,459 points) ahead of Lin Ye (2,170 points) and Isabelle Li (2,110 points), both from Singapore. Sweden’s Kristina Zetterström is in sixth place with 1,886 points.
Sixth place as before for Kristina Zetterström but for her compatriots, Maria Engelson and Linda Bergström, who both reached the second round in Guatemala, it is progress.
Maria Engelson climbs from no.23 to no.18 with 1,319 points; Linda Bergström from no.48 to no.37 with 784 points.
In Guatemala, Maria Engelson was beaten by Sagarika Mukherjee as was Carelyn Cordero; the result is that Sagarika Mukherjee enters the race at no.32 with 875 points.
Brink of Qualification
Meanwhile, Ayikha Muherjee who ended the hopes of Linda Bergstrom before losing to eventual tournament winner, Sutirtha Mukherjee enters at no.81 with 350 points; whilst with a more realistic chance of a place in the finals, Sutirtha Mukherjee makes her debut at no.21 with 1,250 points.
Nikon Hong Junior and Cadet Open
The next tournament on the calendar is the Nikon Hong Junior and Cadet Open; proceedings commence on Wednesday 15th August and conclude on Sunday 19th August 2012.
ITTF Junior Circuit: Boys’ Standings Following Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open
ITTF Junior Circuit: Girls’ Standings Following Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open