by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
All appear in the top eight names, a status which suggests they are major contenders for a podium finish when the curtain closes.
Matteo Mutti is the third highest rated player on the entry list, Daniele Pinto is two places below, whilst Carlo Rossi and Antonino Amato complete the leading names. Somewhat further down the pecking order, the name of John Oyebode can be added to the list of players on whom Italian hopes are focused.
None are strangers to the ITTF World Junior Circuit; in fact all have been on duty earlier this year but have yet to reach the latter the stages. The 2017 Italian Junior and Cadet Open presents a major opportunity to endorse potential and prove themselves when medals become a distinct possibility and the temperature rises.
The most successful member of the group this year is Carlo Rossi, he reached the quarter-final stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event in Sweden; otherwise for his colleagues it has been farewell in the early rounds.
Similar to Carlo Rossi, the round of the last eight was the end result for Germany’s Tobias Hippler in Sweden as it was for Belgium’s Laurens Devos in France; in Lignano Tobias Hippler is the leading name, Laurens Devos is the fourth in the order of merit.
Seeking the next step, it is very much the same for Hungary’s Istvan Molnar, the second seed in the Junior Boys’ Singles event and Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, the sixth in line; both competed on last year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit but have yet to really make their presence felt.
However, will the medallists come from the top eight names? I would venture to suggest that in Lignano there is a very even field.
Outside the top eight names, Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk and Germany’s Kay Stumper, both quarter-finalist in the Czech Republic will be in action, as will Qatar’s Mohammed Abdulwahhab. He makes his first ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament appearance of the year but he has the distinction of titles to his name.
In 2015 he was crowned Junior Boys’ Singles champion in Jordan, last year in Morocco.
Names to note but I would suggest the one name above all to note is that of Hungary’s Bence Csaba; he is the man in form.
At the French Junior and Cadet Open, he reached the semi-final stage; notably one round earlier he beat Azerbaijan’s Yang Xinyu, the winner the previous week in the Czech Republic.
A total of 103 players have registered for the Junior Boys’ Singles event.