by Simon Daish
Heading into the Junior Boys’ Team competition Japan ‘B’ was named at 15th position in the seeding table, and so qualification from the group stage had already ensured that the team would finish above its assigned seeding.
Therefore when Japan ‘B’ came out on top against the no.1 seeds France ‘A’ by a 3-1 scoreline in the quarter-finals the home crowd was left speechless, as the lineup of Haruki Miyamoto, Aoto Asazu and Hiroto Shinozuka moved into the penultimate stage of the competition.
Then Japan ‘B’ completed its road to the final after the team recovered from a trailing position in the last four to beat Japan ‘A’ in a 3-2 thriller.
Awaiting Japan ‘B’ in the final was another surprise package Azerbaijan after the 14th seeded team picked up 3-1 victories over the no.2 seeds France ‘B’ in the last eight and France ‘C’ in the semi-finals, and the Azerbaijan side consisting of Wang Chenxi, Yang Xinyu and Vazir Allahverdiyev was looking to finish the tournament in style as the team went into the final with confidence.
The final turned out to be a rather interesting encounter and while Japan ‘B’ ran out comfortable winners, Azerbaijan put up a good fight.
Haruki Miyamoto got the ball rolling for Japan ‘B’ with a straight games win against Wang Chenxi (16-14, 11-3, 11-7), and Aoto Asazu’s fourth end success against Azerbaijan’s Yang Xinyu (6-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7) put Japan ‘B’ in a strong position in the tie.
Then the match was brought to a close as Hiroto Shinozuka defeated Vazir Allahverdiyev (11-4, 14-12, 11-6) to give the Japanese team the title with a 3-0 victory over Azerbaijan.
“It’s a good performance. Last week, we played against them in the Czech Republic, so we have analyzed their tactics. I think France A or B are the best team in this competition”, Japan coach Sanada.
There may have been disappointment for Azerbaijan in the Boys’ Team final, but the story couldn’t have been more different in the Girls’ Team competition as the second seeds secured the silverware.
Azerbaijan’s Chen Xingtai, Ning Jing and Deng Simeng negotiated the encounter in the semi-finals against Turkey with a 3-0 triumph, and their reward was a place in the final where the top seeds Japan awaited.
Ning Jing caused a major upset at an earlier stage of the 2017 French Junior and Cadet Open when she stunned Japan’s Maki Shiomi to capture the Junior Girls’ Singles crown, and the Azerbaijan representative gave her team the perfect start to the Girls’ Team final after she beat Yuko Kato (11-9, 11-6, 7-11, 11-8).
The second encounter in the final saw Chen Xingtai hold off the challenge of Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki (12-10, 11-9, 6-11, 8-11, 11-5), but Japan hit back and Kana Takeuchi’s fourth end win over Deng Simeng (11-7, 8-11, 4-11, 6-11) followed by Miyu Nagasaki’s clean sweep triumph over Ning Jing (8-11, 6-11, 9-11) resulted in a level scoreline after the opening four matches.
One last duel on the table was required to determine which team would lift the trophy, and it was Chen Xingtai who edged out Japan’s Yuko Kato in the deciding game (11-7, 6-11, 11-4, 6-11, 11-7) to put Azerbaijan onto the top step of the podium.