by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Furthermore there are certain players on duty in Chinese colours in Taicang, who would prove most worthy adversaries if they booked a helicopter and flew quickly to ply their skills in Chengdu; none more so than Qian Tianyi.
The 17 year old has been able to do, not once but twice on the international scene, what no player was able to achieve at the recently concluded Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Platinum Lion Japan Open; that is beat compatriot Sun Yingsha.
Two years ago at the semi-final stage of the Junior Girls’ Singles event at the 2015 China Junior and Cadet Open, en route to the title, she beat Sun Yingsha in the semi-finals; last year she repeated the feat in the final. Now in 2017, she seeks a hat-trick of titles.
Furthermore, she is not the only notable Chinese female name on duty in Taicang. Shi Xunyao, the winner of the Girls’ Singles event at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships in Cape Town last December, is also on duty, as is Liu Weishan and colleague Huang Fanzhen.
Liu Weishan was also in action at the end of last year in Cape Town, reaching the third round of the Girls’ Singles event; additionally in 2015 she advanced to the semi-finals in Taicang, losing to Qian Tianyi. Impressive from Liu Weishan two years ago, it was the same from Huang Fanzhen in 2015, she progressed to the quarter-final round.
Notable female names from the host nation on duty; it is even more pronounced in for their male counterparts.
Xue Fei, runner up in the Boys’ Singles event at the 2015 World Junior Championships and a semi-finalist one year earlier, will be in action, as will Wang Chuqin. He reached the quarter-final round of the global event in 2014, the semi-final one year later.
Likewise, Xu Yingbin,Yu Heyi and Xu Haidong are all named on the entry list. All advanced to the latter rounds of the Boys’ Singles event at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships, whilst last year in Taicang, Xu Haidong was the silver medallist.
Also you can add to the list, Cao Wei, semi-finalist in Taicang in 2015 but could the name to note be that of Niu Guankai?
Last year he won the Cadet Boys’ Singles title at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships, the player he beat in the final was Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto, the young man who later in the year was crowned World Junior champion and was the sensation of the recent Liebherr 2017 World Championships in Düsseldorf.
Note the name for now and note the name for the longer term.