by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interviews: Olalekan Okusan)
It stands today, as arguably the best performance by Australia, for that matter by Oceania in the 14 year history of the event that first saw the light of day in the Chilean capital city of Santiago.
Now at the forthcoming Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships which commence in Cape Town on Wednesday 30th November, the mantle of responsibility for Australia falls firmly on the shoulders of Dominic Huang.
The 18 year old is making his third consecutive appearance in the tournament and is seeking to beat his previous best of a first round exit experienced last year in France. He was beaten by Aliaksandr Khanin of Belarus (11-9, 11-7, 11-4, 11-5).
“I will try to play my best without any pressure. I want to make it to the main draw this year in team and singles events; there are lots of good players here and I just hope I can take each match as they come. I must also acknowledge that the atmosphere is very good for the players because the whole place is full of entertainment. Even when the players are tense, going out of the hall will give you a lot of relief. I just hope it will impact positively on the players”, Dominic Huang
A first round exit in France but most notably in the group stage of affairs he was the lowest rated player in his group. In his opening match, by the narrowest of margins he overcame Brazil’s Gustavo Yokota (6-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7, 8-11, 12-10). Effectively, the win secured second place in the group behind Belgium’s Florian Cnudde and a thus a place in the main draw.
Also present last year in France and present once again in Australian colours is Holly Nicolas; in La Roche sur Yon it was a tough experience, she finished in fourth place in her group behind DPR Korea’s Pyon Song Gyong, Hong Kong’s Liu Qi and India’s Sreeja Akula.
Now one year older, one year wiser, the 16 year old, who is delighted with the atmosphere created in Grand West Casino and Entertainment World, is seeking to build on the French experience.
“I hope I can win some matches and do better than my last outing in France; being my second appearance, I hope I can gain some experience and knowledge to be able to help me in the senior team. I have not played any major competitions for the senior team but I have been part of the squad. I must admit that the atmosphere is amazing and I am sure it will motivate the players to do well”, Holly Nicolas.
Undoubtedly for both Dominic Huang and Holly Nicolas the goal in the respective Boys’ Singles and Girls’ Singles events is the gain main draw places; in the Boys’ Team and Girls’ Team competitions there is a different target.
Can either outfit match the efforts of Trent Carter, Kyle Davis, Robbie Frank and Wade Townsend a decade ago?
In the Boys’ Team event, Dominic Huang lines up alongside Jake Duffy, Ben Gould and Rohan Dhooria; for Holly Nicolas her colleagues are Marsha Guseva, Georgina Newton and Antonia Zhang.