Kunal Codri in outstanding form in Korea
Photo By: Rémy Gros
2013 Korea Junior & Cadet Open - ITTF Premium Junior Circuit (Click here to access this section)
Second place in his group one day earlier, Kunal Chodri from the United States caused one of year’s biggest upsets on the ITTF Junior Circuit by beating Brazil’s Hugo Calderano, the top seed, in the first round of the Junior Boys’ Singles event at the Korea Junior and Cadet Open in Daejeon on Saturday 3rd August 2013.
Against all expectations, Kunal Chodri prevailed by the minimal two point margin in a full distance seven games duel (6-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-6, 7-11, 12-10, 11-9).
Alas for the American the success was short-lived; he was beaten in the very next round by Korea’s Park Jeongwoo (11-8, 11-7, 12-10, 11-4).
The Korean duly booked his place in the semi-finals, courtesy of a quarter-final win over colleague Seo Jungwon (12-10, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9).
Nevertheless, 13 year old Kunal Chodri could reflect on a memorable day.
“I think his backhand was a little weaker than mine, so actually I could play more backhand to backhand instead of playing to his forehand, because that’s stronger than his backhand”, said Kunal Chodri after beating Hugo Calderano. “Trying to block his forehand top spin was the hardest part of the match; he’s more powerful than me.”
Success for Kunal Chodri and it was a contest in which he turned the tables.
In December 2012 he had been beaten by Hugo Calderano in the first round of the Boys’ Singles event at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Hyderabad; on that occasion Hugo Calderano had won in five games (11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-5).
“I was a little more aggressive from both my backhand and forehand than in Hyderabad, also now I'm physically stronger”, added Kunal Chodri. “Today, after the service he couldn't really kill the ball so I could return with top spin attacks.”
Impressed with Performance
Furthermore, Mikael Andersson, ITTF Senior Consultant - Development, Education and Training, who has monitored the progress of Kunal Chodri, was impressed with the young American’s efforts.
“This is a surprise, performed by a very young United States talent who for some years now has been on the ITTF education radar, being a former member of the ITTF World Hopes Team”, said Mikael Andersson. “Kunal Chodri is still very young, born 1999 but is clearly growing as an international player.”
Undoubtedly that fact was underlined against Hugo Calderano.
“We can now notice that the ITTF Hopes Programme really is accelerating the development of young talents, mainly by raising the level of ambition within the player himself and supporters around”, continued Mikael Andersson. “It’s amazing how refreshing it is to see not only Kunal but also other United States talents grasping the opportunities and playing well internationally, regardless of who is standing on the other side of the table.”
Follow the theory, every player is a player.
“It is time for all of us to become believers when it comes to the potential of our sport in the United States market”, concluded Mikael Andersson. “Let’s work hard to give these youngsters more support and also some reward for their efforts.”
A surprise defeat for the top seed, but Hugo Calderano was not alone.
Korea’s Jang Woojin, the no.2 seed was beaten at the quarter-final stage by colleague, Lim Jonghoon in a close seven games encounter (11-4, 11-5, 11-13, 3-11, 5-11, 11-7, 11-9), a player very much in form.
Earlier, Lim Junghoon had ousted Japan’s Tonin Ryuzaki, the no.6 seed, in the opening round (11-8, 11-6, 11-8, 11-9) and Brazil’s Vitor Ishiy, the no.5 seed, one round later (17-15, 11-9, 8-11, 15-13, 12-10).
First Round Defeat
Similarly, there was a first round defeat for Chinese Taipei’s Yang Heng-Wei, the no.8 seeded player; he was beaten by Korea’s Kim Moogang.
However, two notable names did survive, Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting, the no.3 seed and Junior Boys’ Singles runner up one week earlier on home soil, booked his semi-final place as did Korea’s Kim Minhyeok, the no.4 seed.
At the quarter-final stage both beat Koream adversaries; Liao Cheng-Ting overcame Park Chan-Hyeok (11-6, 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-5); Kim Minhyeok accounted for Kim Seokho (9-11, 11-6, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5, 11-4).
At the semi-final stage, Park Jeongwoo faces Kim Minhyeok, Lia Cheng-Ting confronts Lim Jonghoon.
Upsets in the Junior Boys’ Singles but in the Junior Boys’ Doubles, such surprises were few and far between; the only one of note being the quarter-final defeat of Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting and Yang Heng-Wei, the no.4 seeds.
They were beaten by Korea’s Kim Moogang and Kim Jonghoon (11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 11-4).
At the semi-final stage Kim Moogang and Kim Jonghoon meet colleagues Jang Woojin and Park Chan-Hyeok, the no.2 seeds; in the top half of the draw, Brazil’s Hugo Calderano and Vitor Ishiy, the no.1 seeds, face the host nation’s Kim Minyeok and Park Jeongwoo, the no.3 seeds.
Semi-Finals and Finals
The semi-finals and finals of both the Junior Boys’ Singles and Junior Boys’ Doubles events will be played on Sunday 4th August 2013.