By Neha Aggarwal
The top 12 junior teams in the world will face off each other on day two at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Table Tennis Championship here at Cape Town in South Africa.
The teams have been divided into four groups of three teams each with Japan given the top seeding in both junior boys’ and girls’ team events. China secures the second spot with Korea at third. In junior boys’, France is at number four and Romania enjoys the same position in the junior girls’ team event.
Miu Hirano and Mima Ito in action
Japanese teenage sensations – Miu Hirano and Mima Ito will be seen in action on day two of the competition. Hirano opened a new page in the history of Women’s World Cup by becoming the youngest woman to win the prestigious title last month in Philadelphia, USA. She is currently ranked number 11 in the December world rankings. Aiming to win every event, Hirano said ” I will be playing in all 4 events (Girls’ Team, Girls’ Singles, Girls’ Doubles & Mixed Doubles) here in Cape Town and of course I hope to win all 4 Gold, it is going to be tough especially with the Chinese team who will be our biggest threat, but we will give in our best efforts!”
“Even though I won the Women’s World Cup, I have to come into this tournament with a fresh mind and put that victory in the past as the players here are also the best in the world.”- Miu Hirano
On the other hand, Mima Ito is ranked nine in December world rankings and has won three ITTF world tour titles this year. The sixteen year old, who uses short pimples rubber on her backhand is currently one of the quickest women table tennis players in the world.
Both the players will be joined by Hina Hayata and Miyu Kato who are ranked number 24 and 37 in the December rankings respectively. Together these four teenagers make one of the strongest Japanese teams ever in the history of table tennis.
Japan is drawn in Group A alongside Chinese Taipei and USA. Group B will see China, Russia and Brazil fight each other. Group C consists of Korea, Hong Kong and Spain, and Group D is made up of Romania, France and Serbia.
Tough challenge for heroes of day one
The teams that secured top spots in their respective groups on day one are drawn at third position in the stage two groups. They will have to prove their mettle as each of them will be competing against two of the top eight teams in the world. In junior boys’ team event, USA’s Kanak Jha, who did not loose a single match on day one will be facing the mighty Korea Republic and DPR Korea in the second stage group C.
Italy, who faced a tough challenge against Canada will be up against China and Chinese Taipei in group B.
Group A comprises of Japan, Romania and Czech Republic and Group D is made up of France, Hong Kong and Belgium.
Matches start at 9:30am local time. Top two teams from each group will move to stage three which is the quarter final round in a progressive knock out basis.