by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
There is too often a tendency amongst coaches and over anxious parents to encourage their young charges to play in a negative manner; rely on the opponent to make unforced errors; not in Muscat.
Perhaps the finals of the Hopes Boys’ Singles and Hopes Girls’ Singles events did not quite meet the level of the previous rounds, the staging of the matches and introductions to the crowd gave the occasion an air of importance. It produced a few nerves.
Nevertheless, all four players performed most creditably; India’s Suhana Saini secured the Hopes Girls’ Singles title beating Egypt’s Hana Goda in the final (10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8), the win being prior to Iran’s Mohammad Amin Samadi overcoming Yemen’s Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran (11-9, 11-8, 11-8) to be crowned Hopes Boys’ Singles champion.
Remaining calm and focused was a major factor in the success gained by Suhana Sani; after losing the opening game, she did not panic and played with control, answering the speed of Hana Goda. Speed, playing at one hundred miles an hour is the forte of Hana Goda but perhaps that was her undoing; spin the first ball safely on the table and then take matters from that point, might have served her better.
Tense times, when tension mounted no-one responded better than Mohammad Amin Samadi.
In the third game he could see the winning post. He went ahead 7-5, Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran called “Time Out” and reduced the arrears to a one point deficit at 9-8; the narrow gap caused Mohammad Amin Samadi to elect for a break. Arguably it was the best decision of his young career, he won the next two points, the title was in Iranian hands.
Gold for Mohammad Amin Samadi and Suhana Saini, silver for Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran and Hana Goda but for me everyone in the Hopes competitions was a winner, an event to remember.