by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It is at this stage China enters the arena; the boys’ team selects from Niu Guankai, Wang Chuqin, Xu Haidong and Xue Fei.
All have enjoyed success in recent times on the international scene; notably Xue Fei has two ITTF World Tour titles to his credit, Wang Chuqin emerged successful at the Buenos Aires 2018 Asian Youth Olympic Games Qualification tournament. Likewise, Xu Haidong was the silver medallist on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Hong Kong, losing to colleague Yang Shuo in the final, whilst Niu Guankai won the Boys’ Singles title at the recent ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Fiji.
Japan’s Yukiya Uda, Yuto Kizukuri, Masaki Takami and Yuta Tanaka are their major rivals; notably Tomokazu Harimoto is not in Riva del Garda.
The Chinese line-up is quite awesome but now consider the girls’ team; Qian Tianyi, Shi Xunyao, Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu are the players on duty.
Again Japan provides the major challenge, Miyu Kato, Miyuu Kihara, Mitsuho Kimura and Miyu Nagasaki form the selection; notably Miu Hirano, Mima Ito and Hina Hayata have not travelled to Italy.
Sun Yingsha and Wang Manyu have both this year won ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles titles, whilst Qian Tianyi and Shi Xunyao have major junior titles to their credit. Shi Xunyao is the reigning World Junior Champion, she succeeded last year in Cape Town; Qian Tianyi has won the Girls’ Singles title on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in each of the most recent three editions.
Undoubtedly the Chinese outfit starts favourites for gold but if we fast forward some six months and we rest Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling, Liu Shiwen and Chen Meng and send Wu Yang as practice partner; my vote is that the quartet in Riva del Garda would win the Women’s event at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, Sweden.
Anyone beg to differ?