by Simon Daish
There have been some major alterations to the ITTF World Tour for the 2017 season. The new format sees 12 tournaments taking place throughout the year with six ITTF World Tour Platinum events, the new top tier and six regular ITTF World Tour events. Seamaster has agreed a four-year sponsorship and strategic partnership deal for the ITTF World Tour.
Opening the 2017 campaign was the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open. Two days of qualification matches between Tuesday 17th and Wednesday 18th January were followed by four days of main draw action from Wednesday 19th to Sunday 22nd of the month. China left Budapest with all four of the senior competition titles.
Chen Xingtong was one of the standout names in Budapest. Entering the tournament seeded 14th for the Women’s Singles draw, she picked up a high profile victory over the top seed Chen Meng before going on to seal the title with a strong showing against Wen Jia (13-11, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-9).
Another unexpected champion was crowned at the tournament, as Yan An marked his return to the ITTF World Tour with the capture of the Men’s Singles crown. Yan An, whose previous appearance on the ITTF World Tour came at the 2016 German Open, beat fellow Chinese competitor Shang Kun in the final (13-11, 6-11, 11-7, 11-6, 10-12, 11-8) to claim his second trophy in the category.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Doubles events also saw joy for Chinese athletes; Fang Bo and Zhou Yu came out on top against the Brazilian duo of Hugo Calderano and Gustavo Tsuboi, while Chen Xingtong and Li Jiayi proved too strong for Hungary’s Georgina Pota and Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm.
The Under 21 Men’s Singles title saw Kazakhstan’s Kirill Gerassimenko overcome French opponent Can Akkuzu in five ends, with Zeng Jian condemning Lin Ye to a straight games defeat in an all-Singaporean Under 21 Women’s Singles final.
Minnie Soo Wai Yam brought her junior career to a close on a high note after representing Hong Kong with a fine display at the 2016 ITTF World Tour Junior Circuit Finals.
Japan’s Kato Yuki was the beaten Girls’ Singles finalist in Indore as Minnie Soo Wai Yam came through the match in five games (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-4). The Boys’ Singles final was contested between two Chinese Taipei competitors as Li Hsin-Yang pulled off a dramatic recovery to edge out Lai Chi-Chien in a thrilling encounter (11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8).
Ahead of the ITTF Presidency elections a third name has entered the race in the form of Jean-Michel Saive – the Belgian table tennis legend announced his campaign bid at a Press Conference on Thursday 19th January.
Jean-Michel Saive lines up alongside the current ITTF President Thomas Weikert of Germany and Qatar’s Khalil Al-Mohannadi, who currently holds the position of ITTF Deputy President.