by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor (Interview: Olalekan Okusan)
Notably it will be the fifth consecutive time that he has competed in the prestigious annual competition.
“I must admit that that it is not always easy playing at junior level because there are lots of good players across the world, particularly from Asia. I hope and believe that if I can make it to the quarter-final stage, it will be a big achievement for me. I still have two years to feature in this competition”. Kanak Jha
Only 16 years old he is a seasoned competitor; significantly he won the 2014 North American Cup, a success that gained him a place in the Liebherr Men’s World Cup later that year. More recently he was on duty at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Now based in Halmstad, Sweden, the avowed aim is to improve on the performance of one year ago in France when he was beaten in the second round by China’s Xue Fei, the eventual runner up (11-4, 11-7, 12-10, 11-6).
“My focus is to take each match as they come and hope that we can do well in the team event and achieve my dream of making it to the quarter-final in the singles. I must also say that it is a tough target for me and I will just remain focus”, Kanak Jha
Throughout his career Kanak and for that matter, elder sister Prachi, have been supported by mother, Karuna Jain. Notably, the only one of the World Junior Championships when Karuna Jain has not been present was last year in France.
“When I left India to work in United States, I wanted to fulfil my dream and now that my son loves table tennis, I must support him to make his dream a reality. I do not regret making the sacrifice because he is a better person now. I can trust him now because through the sport, he has developed good values like honesty and respect. Despite leaving home early, we can trust his judgement on things but I must admit that it was not easy initially for me because I had to sacrifice a lot most times to be with him. I have made huge sacrifice financially and emotionally for him and now that he has moved to Sweden, I can now face my profession and leave him to live his dream. I am very happy with what the sport has impacted on my son. He is now matured in terms of the sport and socially because he relates very well with people from different countries based on his exposure and he has also been seen as a role model for young players in United States”, Karuna Jain
In the Boys’ Team event, Kanak Jha will line up alongside Adar Alguetti, Victor Liu and Jack Wang; they are the no.12 seeds; in the Boys’ Singles event Kanak Jha is the no.21 seed.