22 Feb 2017

Azerbaijan, a transcontinental country with capital as Baku, is not a leading name in the sport of table tennis. But two young boys, Wang Chenxi and Yang Xinyu kept the nation's flag high on day one, 22nd February 2017, of the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit Swedish Junior and Cadet Open being held at Orebro, Sweden.

By Neha Aggarwal

Together, they successfully marched to the second stage, the knock out round of 128 in the junior boys’ singles.

In group 17, Wang Chenxi, ranked 97 in Under-18 boys’ February 2017 ranking, finished off at the top spot in a very smooth fashion. He won all three matches that he was being tested for. He surpassed Ireland’s Owen Cathcart 3-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-6, 11-6), Finland’s Pedram Moradabbasi 3-0 (11-3, 11-6, 11-3) and Czech Republic’s Radim Bako 3-1 (11-9, 8-11, 11-9, 11-9) to successfully march to the round of 128 which is the knock out sage.

On the other side, Yang Xinyu, despite being placed second in his group 18 before play, emerged victorious winning his three matches to follow his team mate. He beat Egypt’s Marwan Abdelwahab 3-2 (11-7, 7-11, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5), Denmark’s Martin Andersen 3-1 (12-14, 11-5, 11-3, 12-10,) and Japan’s Kazuki Hamada in four games (11-7, 8-11, 15-13, 11-3).

A few new names from the Japanese contingent were seen in action on day one too. 15-year old Kakeru Sone, ranked 89 in the Under-18 February charts had a successful day in the qualification stage. Competing in his third international event, he secured the top spot winning all the three matches in group 13.

His teammate Jo Yokotani, ranked just two spots above Kakeru Sone, at 87, also earned the top spot winning over Hong Kong’s Chan Yee Shun 3-1, Tyrese Knight 3-0 and Saudi Arabia’s Saud Almutairi 3-0.

In group six, Japan’s Takeru Kashiwa joined his teammates with a similar success to march in to the next stage.

The Japanese contingent has been very strategic in the planning of a number of players to compete in all categories offered by the ITTF in its various events all over the world. The recent success of Tomokazu Harimoto, the 13-year old Junior World Champion has been lauded by the entire table tennis community.

Will these young men, on duty in Orebro, follow the steps of Harimoto?

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