by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, defeat at the hands of Darko Jorgic was no mean performance; in the early months of the year the Slovenian rose to the top of the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings.
A noteworthy effort in the Czech Republic, it was even more noteworthy in Croatia.
In the latter stages in Varazdin, he accounted for the Slovak Republic’s Tibor Spanik (11-5, 11-8, 11-6, 12-10) and Japan’s Aoto Asazu, the no.2 seed (8-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-3, 11-7), before securing the title at the final expense of Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsing-Ying (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9).
Impressive performances from the 16 year old, it was the same from Li Hsin-Yang, a player of the same age, on his journey to the final.
Brink of defeat
In the round of the last eight, he recovered from a three games to nil deficit and the brink of defeat in the fourth to beat Japan’s Yu Kayama, the top seed, in a full distance seven games encounter (6-11, 6-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-9).
Success by the narrowest of margins, life was rather more comfortable in the penultimate round; he beat the Czech Republic’s Jiri Martinko, in four straight games (11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8).
Defeat for Jiri Martinko but he was a player in form, at the quarter-final stage he had beaten Romania’s Dragan Florin Oprea (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7), the second round winner over Russia’s Lev Katsman, the no.4 seed (11-7, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-7).
Gold in the Junior Boys’ Singles event, it was almost the same in the Junior Boys’ Doubles competition; partnering colleague Georgios Stamatouros the duo experienced defeat at the final hurdle.
Once again, as later in the day Li Hsing-Yang was the adversary, he partnered colleague Feng Yi-Hsin; a full distance five contest was the outcome (11-9, 10-12, 11-2, 6-11, 11-8).
Pleased, even more pleased
“I’m pleased even how my teammate and myself played the doubles but in singles final it was fantastic; much, much better; Li Hsing-Yang is good but today I was better”, said Ioannis Sgouropoulos. “One tournament and two trophies; it is very hard to play against players from Asia because they are very fast, faster than European players.”
It is for Ioannis Sgouropoulos his first ever ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles title.