by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In 2014 in Belarus, Kenta Tazoe had been beaten in the final by colleague Kohei Sambe; in Stockholm, the no.7 seed, he relieved the pain by beating Chinese Taipei’s Liao Cheng-Ting, the no.9 seed in the gold medal contest (11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8).
Thus he emulated Cazuo Matsumoto; in Croatia in 2005, the Brazilian had been beaten by Frenchman Loïc Bobiller in the final. In St Petersburg he accounted for another Frenchman to secure the title. He beat Emmanuel Lebesson to reserve the top step of the podium.
Perhaps that result is a good omen for both Stockholm finalists?
Notably the St Petersburg protagonists both became continental champions; Cazuo Matsumoto won the Men’s Singles title at 2009 Latin American Championships in San Salvador, more recently last month in October, Emmanuel Lebesson was crowned European champion in Budapest.
Victory for Kenta Tazoe means that he becomes the 24th Japanese player to win an ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles title; is the 52nd time that Japan has celebrated such success.
Meanwhile, for Liao Cheng-Ting, it was his first defeat in an ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles final; earlier this year he won in Bulgaria beating Enzo Angles of France in the final, before in Belgium defeating the host nation’s Florent Lambiet to secure the top prize.
However, there is more than consolation for Liao Cheng-Ting. The win assures him of a top seven finish on the ITTF World Tour Under 21 Men’s Singles Standing; the requirement needed to gain an invitation to the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged in December in Doha.