by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Notably at the forthcoming Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships, which commence in Cape Town, South Africa on Wednesday 30th November; in the Junior Girls’ Team event Romania, France and Russia form the European challenge for honours.
Romania occupies the no.4 seeded position with Andreea Clapa, Adina Diaconu, Andreea Dragoman and Tania Plaian on duty; for France, the no.5 seeds, the line-up comprises Oceane Guisnel, Marie Migot, Leili Mostafavi and Audrey Zarif.
Meanwhile, Russia, the no.7 seeds, select from Daria Chernoray, Maria Malanina, Valeria Shcherbatykh and Mariia Taylakova.
Undoubtedly Romanian eyes will focus very much on Adina Diaconu, the winner of the Junior Girls’ Singles event at the 2016 European Youth Championships in Zagreb. She has notable support from Andreea Dragoman, who clinched the Junior Girls’ Singles title at the 2016 Bahrain Junior and Cadet Open. Notably she beat Andreea Clapa in the final.
However, of the French, Romanian and Russian players on duty in Cape Town; Andreea Dragoman is the only one to win an ITTF World Junior Circuit Girls’ Singles title this year.
The best for France is Marie Migot, the runner up in the Czech Republic; it is the very much the same for Russia. Daria Chernoray was the silver medallist in France.
Major forces in Europe but in Cape Town with the likes of Japan, China, Korea and Hong Kong on duty, they have prodigious opponents.
Both Miu Hirano and Mima Ito appear in the Japanese line-up; Liu Weishan who impressed the ITTF World Tour in DPR Korea appears in the Chinese outfit; whilst Kim Jiho, winner on the 2015 ITTF World Junior Circuit on both home soil and in the Slovak Republic, is named in the Korean squad.
Similarly Mak Tze Wing, who won this year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Thailand and Minnie Soo Wai Yam who succeeded in Chinese Taipei, will be on duty for Hong Kong.
Medals for Europe in the Junior Girls’ Team event; most certainly it is a distinct possibility but it is a major challenge; a place on the podium would be a major boost for the old continent but if that goal is to be achieved two factors must happen.
One player will have to rise to the occasion and above all else there must be team spirit, a true team effort.