by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Similar to Manav Vikash Thakkar, earlier this year Manush Utpalbhai Shah competed in the 2017 ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Luxembourg, both players experiencing the same problem; both lost to Kanak Jha of the United States; Manush Utpalbhai Shah in the round of the last eight, Manav Vikash Thakkar in the final.
Additionally, both competed later in February in the Czech Republic; Manav Vikash Thakkar was beaten in round four by Japan’s Kazuki Hamada; Manush Utpalbhai Shah departed one round earlier, he lost to China’s Xu Yingbin, a player he was to meet again later in proceedings. The duo reached the Junior Doubles final, they were beaten Xu Yingbin and colleague Yu Heyi.
Favourites for gold but in the Junior Boys’ Team event there is strong opposition; Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen lines up alongside Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun with Algeria’s Mohamed Sebia completing the team.
A formidable outfit; last year Yanapong Panagitgun won the Junior Boys’ Singles title in Portugal, whilst earlier this year he advanced to the quarter-final round in Oman, losing to China’s Quan Kaiyuan. Somewhat similarly, Pang Yew En Koen advanced to the third round in Sweden where likewise aspirations were halted by China, he lost to Wang Tiankuo.
Somewhat conversely for Mohamed Sebia he has been absent from international duty in current times; the 2016 African Junior and Cadet Championships being the most recent appearance of note. On that occasion he did not advance beyond the initial stage of the Cadet Boys’ Singles competition.
Nevertheless, Yanapong Panagitgun and Pang Yew En Koen are formidable challengers for honours but I would suggest the strongest challenge comes from Iran. Amin Ahmadian and Amirreza Abbasi form a most dangerous partnership.
At the recent Oman Junior and Cadet Open staged earlier in the year in Muscat, Amin Ahmadian reached the semi-final stage of the Junior Boys’ Singles event; notably in the quarter-final round he beat Liang Yanning to prevent an all Chinese last four line up. Xu Haidong ended adventures, having earlier ousted Amirreza Abbasi in round two.
Equally in form is Hungary’s Csaba Andras, he partners Canada’s Jeremy Hazin, the duo occupies the fourth seeded spot; at the recent 2018 Belgosstrakh European Under 21 Championship, the 15 year old Hungarian excelled. He reached the quarter-final stage of the Men’s Singles event, losing to the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky, the champion elect.
Similarly, Jeremy Hazin has a Czech Republic connection, he was on duty in February at the ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament in Hodonin; he was beaten in round three by Japan’s Kakeru Sone.
However, eyes focus on India and it is the same in the Cadet Boys’ Team event; Payas Jain and Aadil Anand occupy the top seeded position, Tunisia’s Youssef Abid and Khalil Sta are next in line.