by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Xu Haidong, Yan Shuo and Xu Yingbin represent the Chinese challenge, with perhaps, Xu Yingbin, the name to note.
He is the fourth highest rated player on duty but one year ago, competing on the 2016 ITTF World Tour, he reached the final of the Men’s Singles event in Pyongyang, losing to the host nation’s Kang Wi Hun.
Furthermore, this year he has been in form. On the ITTF World Junior Circuit on home ground in Taicang, he was the Junior Boys’ Singles runner up; immediately following, at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Asan, Korea, he progressed to the semi-final round. On both occasions he was beaten by the winner, colleague, Wang Chuqin.
Defeat at the hands of the tournament winner, at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships in Cape Town, South Africa, it was the same for Xu Haidong and for Yan Shuo. Both lost to Japan’s Tomokazu Harimoto; Xu Haidong in round three, Yan Shuo in the semi-finals. Likewise Xu Yingbin departed in round three; he was beaten by Korea’s Cho Seungmin.
In Hong Kong, Xu Haidong, a right handed pen-holder, is the top seed in the Men’s Singles event, Yang Shuo is the no.3 seed.
Next in line to Xu Haidong is Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju; colleagues Feng Yi-Hsin and Li Hsin-Yang are the respective no.5 and no.7 seeds, respectively.
On duty at the recent Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Asan, Korea; Lin Yun-Ju reached the quarter-final stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event; a fine effort but it was alongside Li Hsin-Yang that the greatest success was achieved.
Against the odds the duo reached the final of the Junior Boys’ Singles competition, losing to the host nation’s An Jaehyun and Hwang Minha
Furthermore, Lin Yun-Ju impressed in late May at the Liebherr 20017 World Championships in Düsseldorf; he progressed through the qualification stage of the Men’s Singles event to reach the opening round, losing to Germany’s vastly more experienced Bastian Steger.
Impressive in Asan, it was the same from Feng Yi-Hsin; he reached the quarter-final round of the Cadet Boys’ Singles event.
However, it is on this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit that he has excelled. In Spain he won Cadet Boys’ Singles title beating Japan’s Jo Yokotani in the semi-final. Likewise, in Poland he reached the semi-final stage of the Cadet Boys’ Singles event where Kateru Sone ended progress; Kateru Sone advanced to win the title overcoming Jo Yokotani in the final.
At the Hang Seng 2017 Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open, in the Junior Boys’ Singles event, Kateru Sone is the no.6 seed, Jo Yokotani, the no.8 seed.
Play commences with the individual events.