by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
After Yuto Kizukuri had given Japan the early lead by beating Jules Rolland (11-13, 11-9, 11-8, 11-9), ten days after celebrating his 17th birthday, Yuka Tanaka doubled the advantage. He overcame Irvin Bertrand (5-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5).
“I was really nervous before the match, he was a left hander and it wasn’t until the middle of the second game that I became accustomed to his style of play; it took me time to adapt. I was able to win mainly by changing the direction of the play.” Yuta Tanaka
Japan two matches to nil ahead, it was at that stage of proceedings France responded. Bastien Rembert beat Masaki Takami by the very narrowest of decisions (12-10, 2-11, 13-11, 8-11, 11-9), before an inspired Irvin Bertrand accounted for Yuto Kizukuri (8-11, 11-8, 6-11, 11-3, 11-7.
Matters level, the fate of Japan, the highest rated team in the competition, was in the hands of Yuta Tanaka; the teenager duly responded, he beat Jules Rolland in three hard fought games to seal the win (11-6, 12-10, 11-7).
“A big occasion, my first World Junior Championships; I was even more nervous than before my first match; the vital time came in the second game, I was down 8-10 and won 12-10. Maybe like me he was nervous, I tried to be aggressive, I tried to be positive; I’m so pleased.” Yuka Tanaka
At the semi-final stage, Korea, the no.3 seeds, await; they accounted for Chinese Taipei, the no.4 seeds, by three matches to one to reserve their place in the final.
Mainstay of the win was An Jaehyun, he beat Li Hsin-Yang (11-4, 11-8, 11-7), before overcoming Lin Yun-Ju to end matters (11-3, 5-11, 11-6, 11-6).
Crucial wins for Korea but the pivotal success was that achieved by Kwak Yubin in the third match of the fixture, he beat Feng Yi-Hsin in whet must be one of the longest deciding games since the 11 point scoring system was introduced (11-6, 9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 20-16).
The one win for Chinese Taipei was recorded in the second match of the fixture when Lin Yun-Ju beat Baek Hogyun (7-11, 11-5, 11-6, 3-ll, 11-6).
Play in the penultimate round of the Men’s Team event is scheduled to start later in the evening at 8.00pm.