by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Throughout Kanak Jha was never extended the full distance, the players to provide the greatest resistance being his compatriot, Sharon Alguetti and the host nation’s in-form Santiago Lorenzo.
After overcoming the Dominican Republic’s Mariano Lockward, the no.15 seed (11-6, 11-5, 12-10, 11-5), Kanak Jha had to recover from an opening game deficit to beat Santiago Lorenzo, the no.20 seed (15-17, 11-4, 11-2, 11-6, 11-9).
Impressively, the previous day, the 15 year old Argentine had overcome Chile’s Nicolas Burgos, the no.9 seed (11-5, 11-13, 11-6, 11-9, 9-11, 10-12, 11-9), before on the second day of action ousting Brazil’s Eduardo Tomoike, the no.13 seed (11-8, 12-10, 11-5, 13-11).
Eventually, Kanak Jha imposed his authority on proceedings; it was very much the same at the quarter-final stage, when he was required to recover from a two games to one deficit against compatriot Sharon Alguetti, the no.3 seed (11-5, 7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-7).
Some tense moments, not in the final; from the first point, Kanak Jha was totally focused, he beat Argentina’s Francisco Sanchi, the no.2 seed, in four straight games (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7) to repeat the success of their one previous meeting in a world ranking event. They met in the Boys’ Team event at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships in Cape Town; as today on that occasion Kanak Jha had won in straight games.
“It was a tough match against Francisco but I was focused, my concentration was better the more the day progressed. I’ve played him before so I knew what to expect. Today I was strong from by backhand; in the rallies I tried to keep changing the direction of the play. I feel I received service well; it’s important against Francisco to win the short points; he’s good in the rallies.” Kanak Jha
In the latter rounds, Francisco Sanchi had beaten Peru’s Rodrigo Hidalgo, the no.16 seed (12-10, 11-5, 11-5, 11-7), Chile’s Andres Martinez, the no.9 seed (11-6, 11-1, 12-10, 11-4) and Victor Liu of the United States, the no.3 seed (11-13, 11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 11-2, 11-13, 11-7) on his journey to the final.
“I feel happy. I was hoping to reach the final and I did but I was really tired, the semi-final was exhausting. I think during the tournament my performance was at a good level.” Francisco Sanchi
Undoubtedly, a fine effort from the Argentine but spare a thought for the 18 year old; it is the fourth time this year that he has reached a Boys’ Singles final and has ended matters as the silver medallist.
Earlier in the year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, he was the runner up in Paraguay and Spain, whilst also experiencing the same fate at the South American Junior and Cadet Championships.
Disappointment for Francisco Sanchi, celebration for Kanak Jha and perhaps he’ll share a slice of cake with Freddy Almendariz, the Competition Manager, for him it was also a milestone, it was his 30th birthday.