by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It is for Minnie Soo Wai Yam a quick return to a country where she has very happy memories; some two weeks ago, on Saturday 28th January, she won the Girls’ Singles title at the 2016 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals.
Success but as yet the same measure of success has not been recorded on the ITTF World Tour; however, only 18 years old, she has time on her side, an Under 21 Women’s Singles title no doubt her first goal.
It is such a title that Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching and Ng Wing Nam have won. Arguably they are just one step ahead of Minnie Soo Wai Yam but I would suggest it is a very small step.
Notably, Lee Ho Ching won Under 21 Women’s Singles titles in 2011 in Slovenia and Poland; two years later in Germany she also emerged successful. Likewise Ng Wing Nam emerged victorious in 2013 in Spain and China, whilst in 2015 Doo Hoi Kem prevailed in Kuwait.
The Gulf state of Kuwait; it is where Jiang Huajun achieved, what eleven years later, remains one of the most remarkable accomplishments ever known on the ITTF World Tour.
In 2006, she beat the cream of China to win the Women’s Singles event; that after almost departing in the opening round. On her first visit to the table she overcame Hungary’s Petra Lovas by the very narrowest of seven games margins (9-11, 11-9, 14-12, 10-12, 8-11, 11-2, 12-10), before accounting China’s Zhang Yining (11-4, 11-6, 14-12, 9-11, 7-11, 11-4), regarded by most as the greatest female player of the current century, arguably also of the previous century!
Success against Zhang Yining was followed by a quarter-final victory over Italy’s Wenling Tan Monfardini (11-4, 11-8, 11-3, 11-5), before on Friday 24th February she excelled once age.
She ended the hopes of the Chinese pairing of Guo Yan (7-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5, 5-11, 12-10, 11-3) and Guo Yue (11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-3) to clinch her first ever ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles title.
Later she won in 2007 in Chile and Korea before more recently succeeding in 2013 in Spain.
Now in 2017 in New Delhi will her experience count and she has plenty of that commodity. Representing China at the time, she made her ITTF World Tour debut in 2001 in Sweden. Furthermore, she secured a podium finish; partnering Guo Yan, she was the Women’s Doubles runner up.
However, is this the last hurrah for the 32 year old, she was a member of the Hong Kong squad at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships but not selected for the major contests. Equally she did not feature in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
Will she compete in Düsseldorf at the forthcoming Liebherr 2017 World Championships?
I suggest Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam are strong candidates for selection.
In order to reserve a place at the Liebherr 2017 World Championships; at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open, Jiang Huajun may well have to rekindle the form of eleven years ago in Kuwait.