by Ian Marshall (ITTF Publications Editor)
After accounting for Japan’s Koyo Kanamitsu, the no.3 seed (12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8); Li Hsin-Yang overcame colleague, Lai Chi-Chien, the no.6 seed, to arrest the title (11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8). Earlier in the counterpart semi-final, Li Hsin-Yang had ended the progress of Romania’s Alexandru Manole, the no.5 seed (16-14, 8-11, 11-13, 4-11, 12-10, 11-7).
Seven games needed for Li Hsin-Yang to secure the title; it was rather less dramatic for Minnie Soo Wai Yam. In the title deciding contest, she overcame Japan’s Yuko Kato, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4), having one round earlier defeated Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.4 seed (11-7, 13-1, 13-11, 15-13). At the penultimate stage, Yuko Kato had beaten Chinese Taipei’s Fang Sih-Han, the no.7 seed (5-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9).
Success for Li Hsin-Yang over Lai Chi-Chien meant that it was the fourth time that players from Chinese Taipei had reached an ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles final and the third time they had won.
In 2004, Wu Chih-Chi was beaten in the final by Japan’s Seiya Kishikawa; two years later it was a different story. Chiang Hung-Chieh won in Vrsac Serbia in 2006 beating Kenta Matsudaira, also from Japan, in the final.
Gold in Vrsac for Chinese Taipei; it was same in January 2012 in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Hung Tzu-Hsiang overcame Korea’s Choi Deokhwa to reserve the top step of the podium.
It is the first time there has been an all-Chinese Taipei ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles final and only the second time, that players from the same national association have contested the title. In January 2015 in Asuncion, Paraguay, an all-Japanese affair saw Yuto Kizukuri beat Tonin Ryuzaki to claim the top prize.
Overall, it is the fifth time that Chinese Taipei has won gold at the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals. In San Juan, Chen Szu-Yu beat Singapore’s Isabelle Siyun Li to win the Girls’ Singles title; three years later in Asuncion, Huang Yi-Chao followed suit. She overcame Japan’s Ayane Morita to win gold.
Meanwhile, in the Girls’ Singles event, Minnie Soo Wai Yam continued Hong Kong’s run of success.
One year ago, also in India, Zhu Chengzhu accounted for Korea’s Park Seri to clinch the top prize; two years previously in Vilanova de Gaia, Portugal, Doo Hoi Kem claimed the title by overcoming Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yi-Hua.
Only in one other edition have players from Hong Kong reached the title deciding contest. In the 2010 Finals, it was defeat at the hands of Japan. Chiu Chung-Hei was beaten in the Boys’ Singles final by Misaki Yoshida, Lee Ho Ching in the Girls’ Singles gold medal contest by Kasumi Ishikawa.
The city was Hyderabad, the country was India; in Indore in January 2017, one table turned.