by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Success on home soil in India and also in Slovenia whilst being the runner up at the Finals in Luxembourg; Manav Vikash Thakkar, named in top spot on the current Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, leads the field in Hodonin.
Next in line is Rares Sipos, listed at no.5 followed by Cristian Pletea who is one place lower at no.6 and Bastian Rembert at no.7. In 2017 Rares Sipos won in Hungary after Cristian Pletea had succeeded in Tunisia and Bastien Rembert on home turf in France.
Notably following the Road to Buenos Aires – Europe tournament, Bastian Rembert and Cristian Pletea are bound for the 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
At the Finals in Luxembourg, Cristian Pletea, Bastian Rembert and Rares Sipos all performed most creditably but perhaps expected better. Rares Sipos and Cristian Pletea both departed at the quarter-final stage, the former losing to Manav Vikash Thakkar, the latter to Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz; for Bastien Rembert it was even earlier in the proceedings. He finished in third place in his group on games ratio behind Kanak Jha of the United States and Youssef Abdel-Aziz, the Egyptian advancing to the semi-final round where Manav Vikash Thakkar ended aspirations.
Presently named at no.11 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, Youssef Abdel-Aziz is the no.5 seed in Hodonin and is one of three notable names who emerged successful at last year’s continental qualification tournaments for the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games.
Also set for the South American city later in the year in October is Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece and Chile’s Nicolas Burgos; presently Ioannis Sgouropoulos is named at no.16 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, Nicolas Burgos is one place lower. In Hodonin they complete to top ten named in the Junior Boys’ Singles event; a fact that underlines the strength of the entry for the second ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament of the year.
They are listed behind Frenchman Jules Rolland, Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk and China’s Xu Yingbin.
Winner in 2017 in Italy, Maciej Kolodziejczyk, named at no.14 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, had to settle for third place in his group in Luxembourg; neither Jules Rolland nor Xu Yingbin were present in the Grand Duchy but they could well feature when this year’s list is announced.
Ranked no.13, on the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit, Bastien Rembert was a semi-finalist in Hungary and Belgium, a round which Xu Yingbin reached in Hong Kong and at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Asan, Korea. Furthermore, he was the runner up in China.
No titles but note the names against whom he experienced defeat, he only lost to compatriots: in China and Korea he was beaten by Wang Chuqin who will be on duty at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, in Hong Kong he lost to Xu Haidong, the runner up at the recent Oman Junior and Cadet Open.
On the present Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, he is occupies the no.15 spot.