by Simon Daish
Neither one of Jung or Cho had previously got their hands on a World Tour title before the Open in Minsk, with their 2016 personal best finishes being at the quarter-finals stage. But victories on the penultimate day of play at the Belarus Open proved enough to change that statistic.
Jung’s opponent in the Under 21 Women’s final was Japan’s Saki Shibata who participated in her third successive World Tour final in the category, having taken the title at the 2016 Asarel Bulgaria Open and finished as runner-up at the 2016 Czech Open.
Only three games were required for the final in Minsk as Jung registered a straight games win; Jung took a close first end by a three point margin and soon doubled her lead by taking game two.
Shibata attempted to claw her way back into the tie in game three, but it was a case of too little too late for the Japanese competitor as Jung made full use of the momentum picked up from the opening two games to blast her way to victory (11-8, 11-5, 11-9). Success for Jung Yumi and the Korean was shocked to have beaten Saki Shibata to win gold:
“I’m just happy with the fact that I have won. It has come as a surprise for my coach and I because earlier, at the Czech Open, I played against this athlete and lost the match, and now it’s like revenge. I’ve never won such important titles at such big events… so I am especially pleased with today’s victory” – Jung Yumi (Korea Republic).
Thrilling Finale From Korean Duo
The other Under 21 competition saw Cho Seungmin go up against fellow Korean player Park Ganghyeon, in a match that went to the deciding game.
Cho was seeded second for the event and with Park placed two position lower in fourth, the final was anticipated to be close and Park got the match underway by claiming the opening game in deuce. The second end brought the match level as Cho struck back; the following game took the final to deuce for the second occasion but, unlike before, it was Cho who edged it to grab a 2-1 lead.
There are only a maximum of five ends in the Under 21 matches and Park ensured that the final would reach that deciding game, after returning symmetry to the scoreboard with two games apiece.
However, Cho Seungmin used his prior match knowledge of his opponent to his advantage to squeeze home in the final end (10-12, 11-8, 13-11, 5-11, 11-5) and seal his maiden World Tour trophy.
“I’m in good shape these days, so winning in the finals wasn’t a problem for me today. Actually, I know my opponent pretty well, since we’ve been playing in the same team for quite a long time.” – Cho Seungmin (Korea Republic).
Cho Seungmin and Jung Yumi have reached a new milestone in their relatively young careers, and after a disappointing campaign for Korea Republic at the 2016 Olympic Table Tennis events, maybe signs of a brighter future for the country’s players are appearing to show.
Saturday 10th September: Under 21 Women’s Singles – Main Draw
Saturday 10th September: Under 21 Men’s Singles – Main Draw