by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Undoubtedly the absence of Yanapong Panagitgun from the originally named outfit hampered the second seeds; Pan Yew En Koen beat both Pero Tepic (11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-3) and Dimitrije Levajac (11-5, 11-6, 12-10) but that was the sum total of his team’s success.
Mohamed Sebia was beaten by both Dimitrije Levajac (11-1, 11-9, 11-5) and by Pero Tepic (11-6, 11-3, 11-2); crucially, the third match of the fixture, the doubles, went the way of the Serbians (11-7, 11-8, 11-4).
Otherwise in the first stage of play in the Junior Boys’ Team event, the leading outfits in each of the four groups secured first places. India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar and Manush Utpalbhai Shah, the top seeds, duly topped their group without due alarm, as did the combination of Canada’s Jeremy Hazin and Hungary’s Csaba Andras, the no.4 seeds.
However, the performance to attract the attention was that of Iran, the no.3 seeds. The duo of Amirezza Abbassi and Amin Ahmadian recovered from a two matches to nil deficit to overcome China’s Zhang Shangzheng and Zhang Bo in their concluding fixture of the day to maintain their unbeaten record.
Zhang Shangzheng beat Amireza Abbasi (12-10, 11-6, 11-7) to give China the perfect start before Zhang Bao accounted for Amin Ahmadian (14-12, 3-11, 12-10, 11-8) to double the advantage. It was at that stage the Iranian revival began. The doubles was secured (11-3, 10-12, 11-7, 11-7), before Amin Ahmadian accounted for Zhang Shangzheng (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9) and Amirrez Abbasi overcame Zhang Bao (11-4, 11-7, 11-7) to complete the recovery.
It was to be the only defeat of the day for China; second position in the group was their eventual lot and progress to the main draw gained.
Defeat for China but in the Cadet Boys’ Team first stage there were no such problems; the combination of Li Yaoqin,, Liu Menlong and Yang Jiahao duly topped their group, as did India’s Aadil Anand and Payas Jain in addition to Tunisia’s Youssef Abid and Khalil Sta.
Likewise it was first place for the Belgium ‘A’ team duo of Louis Laffineur and Alessi Massart as it was from the Belgium ‘B’ Team pairing of Mathis Douin and Xavier Wats.
Play in both the Junior Boys’ Team and Junior Girls’ Team events conclude on Tuesday 20th March.