by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
None of the players, who appeared in the crucial contests in 2016 when China clinched gold at the Perfect World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur or at the Rio Olympic Games, appears on the entry list.
Who present in the Hungarian capital city could stake their claim for a place in the Chinese team for the Liebherr 2017 World Championships to be staged in May in Düsseldorf.
Surely, the players with the greatest possibilities are those who hold the distinction of completing the full house of titles at a World Junior Championships.
In 2009 in the Colombian city of Cartagena de Indias, in addition to being a member of the successful Boys’ Team, Fang Bo partnered Gu Yuting to Mixed Doubles success and Song Hongyuan to Boys’ Doubles gold, before securing the Boys’ Singles title.
Meanwhile, two years later in Manama, after gaining the top prize in the Girls’ Team competition, Chen Meng joined forces with Song Hongyuan to clinch the Mixed Doubles top prize, before winning the Girls’ Doubles title in harness with Zhu Yuling and then being crowned Girls’ Singles champion.
Furthermore, they are the two players who have proven themselves at World Championships; notably when competing both lost to the eventual winner.
Chen Meng did not compete in the Women’s Singles event in Suzhou in 2015 but two years earlier she reached the fourth round losing to Li Xiaoxia; however, if either player possesses a pedigree, it is Fang Bo. Two years ago he was the runner up in the Men’s Singles event, beaten by colleague Ma Long.
Success at the World Junior Championships; however, could it be players who just fell short in the prestigious annual event who can make an impact in Budapest and strengthen their claim for a place in Düsseldorf?
In the Men’s Singles event note the names Lin Gaoyuan, Yan An and Liang Jingkun; for the counterpart Women’s Singles competition, Wen Jia and Chen Xongtong must merit consideration.
Lin Gaoyuan holds arguably the most unwanted World Junior Championships record of all. Four appearances and always beaten by the winner. On debut in 2009 he experienced a semi-final defeat at the hands of Fang Bo, before in each of the next three years concluding the tournament in runners up spot. In 2010 he was beaten by compatriot, Song Hongyuan, the following year by Japan’s Koki Niwa, before in 2012 in Hyderabad by Fan Zhendong.
Silver for Lin Gaoyuan, similarly Yan An experienced defeat at the hands of Fang Bo in 2009; Liang Jingkun lost to Korea’s Jang Woojin in round three in 2013 in the following year in 2014 to colleague Xu Fei.
Likewise, in the Girls’ Singles event, Wen Jia was the silver medallist in Cairo in 2006 and in Palo Alto in 2007, whilst Chen Xingtong reached the quarter-finals in 2014 and the semi-finals the following year in France.
However, could the impact in Budapest come from a member of the Chinese contingent who has no such World Junior Championships pedigree?
Can Shang Kun or Zhou Yu come out of the shadows. Shang Kun won the Under 21 Men’s Singles title at the ITTF World Tour 2009 Polish Open, state his case; Zhou Yu was the runner up the Men’s Doubles event in harness with Fan Zhendong at the Qoros 2015 World Championships.
Equally, for the women, Sheng Dandan, Li Jiayi and Che Xiaoxi all appear on the entry list.
Li Jiayi is the member of the trio with the most to prove, her most notable international finish is runners up spot in 2010 on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Taiyuan and Hong Kong. Somewhat more impressively, Che Xiaoxi won the 2015 Universiade, Sheng Dandan was the Women’s Singles runner up at the ITTF World Tour 2013 Polish Open.
Names to note most certainly and when play concludes in Budapest on Sunday 22nd January when the champions are crowned, one or more may well be very much of note.