by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
At the final hurdle Kanak Jha beat India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.3 seed, in a full distance seven games encounter (9-11, 11-3, 9-11, 11-6, 11-3, 9-11, 11-6).
Victory but very nearly Kanak Jha did not qualify for the main draw, he finished in first place in his initial stage group securing the position on games ratio. In his opening contest of the whole tournament he was beaten by Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz (5-11, 13-11, 11-3, 7-11, 6-11, 11-6, 11-7).
“At the beginning of the tournament I was very nervous. After losing my first match, my only thought was you have to play and fight and that’s what I did. It was the first time I played against Thakkar but he is really a fantastic player. I was patient in the rallies. Luxembourg is amazing. Hotel and the venue were very good and it was really a great tournament.” Kanak Jha
“I felt very good, it was a good match. My opponent played really very well but I also played well. He was very consistent and I was very consistent, he was so quick; whoever got into position to play strongly won the point.” Manav Vikash Thakkar
Meanwhile, for Maki Shiomi she emerged the one player to progress unbeaten throughout the whole tournament; in the final she overcame Chinese Taipei’s Su Pei-Ling, the no.4 seed; an impressive straight games win was the order of the day (11-9, 11-6, 13-11, 11-7).
Thus for Maki Shiomi on the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit it was first and last; one year ago she had won in the Czech Republic, the first tournament on the year’s calendar. Later she was also to win in Sweden, India and Spain; an impressive year.
“The score was four-nil but it was not so easy for me. Su had some chances on the big points. I’m very satisfied with my performance because I won every match during this tournament. In the final and the semi-finals I didn’t play very well but I’m happy that I have won this tournament as the number one seed. This tournament was perfect. The people were very friendly, the hotel and the venue very good too. Only the weather could be better.” Maki Shiomi
“It’s good to be second. Last year I was fifth and this year second, so it’s a big step forward. In the final I did not control the game, Maki Shiomi managed to control the game. She has a good technique.” Su Pei-Ling
It was the first time that the finalists in both events had met on the international scene.