by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Shi Xunyao, winner earlier this year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in the Czech Republic leads an impressive Chinese line-up which, among its ranks, includes Zhang Binyue, the winner earlier this year in Oman and Sun Yizhen, a semi-finalist in the Czech Republic.
Such is the strength in depth in the Junior Girls’ Singles event in Metz that neither Sun Yizhen nor Zhang Binyue appear amongst the leading names.
Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze followed by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Ting-Ting and Puerto-Rico’s Adriana Diaz complete the top four names. Notably Adriana Diaz is en route to the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, having reserved her place just under one year ago at the Latin American Qualification Tournament in the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, this year she was in impressive form on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Sweden, reaching the semi-final stage. Furthermore, on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, in 2016 she won in both Poland and Slovakia.
The situation for Chau Wing Sze and Chen Ting-Ting is somewhat different, neither has an ITTF World Junior Circuit Girls’ Singles title to their name but each has come close. Last year Chen Ting-Ting was the runner up in Slovakia; Chau Wing Sze experienced the same finish in Hungary.
Notably for Chen Ting-Ting it is her first ITTF World Junior Circuit appearance of the year; for Chau Wing Sze her second and she has point to prove. Last week in Belgium when the top seed, she was beaten in the second round by Hungary’s Fanni Harasztovich.
Romania’s Andrea Dragoman, Hong Kong’s Wong Chin Yau and the Czech Republic’s Zdena Blaskova are next in line with the host nation’s Lucie Gauthier completing the top eight names.
All have been on ITTF World Junior Circuit duty this year; Andrea Dragoman and Zdena Blaskova reached the third round in Italy, Wong Chin Yau was a quarter-finalist in Belgium but the name to shine this year has been that of Lucie Gauthier.
She was a quarter-finalist in the Czech Republic, a semi-finalist in Tunisia and the runner up in Belgium; step at a time and just one step to climb; can that be achieved on home soil? It is a tough task but not beyond the bounds of possibility.
The leading eight names all gain direct entry to the main draw.