By Neha Aggarwal
India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, currently ranked No.40 in the Under 18 Boys’ World rankings will be leading the charge in the Junior Boys’ singles event. Impressively, Manav has been consistently participating in both ITTF Junior Circuit events and ITTF World Tour. He had an incredible year so far; he was the surprise runners up at the Polish Junior Open in May 2016. On his way to the finals he beat higher ranked opponents to move up in the rankings. Additionally, in the same month, he entered the round of 16 in 2016 Slovak Junior Open – ITTF Junior Circuit.
Next he was in action at the ITTF World Tour Polish Open and Bulgaria Open in the month of August. His performance helped him improve his Under 18 boys World Ranking. He moved from No.76 in August to No.40 in September 2016. The Indian Junior National Champion is also ranked at number 24 in the World Junior Circuit standings. The top 16 players will get an entry into the World Junior Circuit finals to be played at Indore in January 2017.
Lai Chi-Chien in race
The 18-year old from Chinese Taipei had his best performance this year at the 2016 French Junior and Cadet Open. He was the runners up, beating the no.4 and the no.2 seed on his way to the finals.
Currently at World ranking 45 in Under 18 boys, Lai Chi-Chien has been consistently participating at the World Tour and Junior Circuit this year. He was seen on duty at Czech and French Junior and Cadet Open in February, Thailand Junior and Cadet Open in May, World Tour Australian Open in June, Jordan Junior and Cadet open in July, Chinese Taipei Junior and Cadet Open in August and now Indian Junior and Cadet Open in September.
This consistency has undoubtedly helped him reach the No.9 position in the World Junior Circuit Standings.
Both Manav Thakkar and Lai Chi-Chien will be the star attractions at Indore. Manav is ahead in the Under 18 world rankings but Lai Chi- Chen has a firm footing at No.9 in the World Junior Circuit Boys’ standings. Both have never contested each other and thus it will make matters further interesting if they meet up at Indore.
The tournament has 70% participants from India but will the 4 players from Chinese Taipei stop the Indians from dominating the event? The next few days will be vital.
All players will be seen in action on 7th September as the team event commences. The groups for Junior Boys’ Team Events are:
Group A: India B, Indonesia-Bhutan, India E; Group B: Chinese Taipei, India C, India F; Group C: India A, Iran, India D, Bhutan
The groups for Cadet Boys’ Team Events are: Group A: Chinese Taipei, India C, India E; Group B: India A, India B, India D