by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Pride of place went to Bilal Hamache; presently listed at no.265 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, he accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Tai Ming-Wei, named at no.28 the third highest rated player on initial phase duty. Impressively, the Frenchman who will celebrate his 16th birthday in three days’ time, emerged successful in four games (11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8).
Unexpected from Bilal Hamache, it was the same from Myshaal Sabhi who beat Germany’s Kay Stumper (11-9, 11-4, 12-14, 12-10), as it was from Vincent Picard. He accounted for Japan’s Takeru Kashiwa (12-10, 11-9, 7-11, 11-8). Likewise Fabio Rakotoarimanana overcame Portugal’s Vitor Amorin (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8), whilst Esteban Door, a player with no current World Ranking, caused Portugal more pain. He prevailed against Tiago Li (11-8, 11-6, 11-7).
Defeats but in all five instances it was the only defeat for the leading names; thus main draw places were secured.
Furthermore, for France, as expected, Leo de Nodrest, the second highest rated player on initial stage duty topped his group, whilst Dorian Zheng secured second place in his group behind Russia’s Lev Katsman, as did Florian Bourrassaud. He finished next in line to Germany’s Cedric Meissner.
Eight Frenchmen through to the main draw and there was one more but in a different manner. Named at no.62 on the current Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, the highest rated play in his group, Lilian Bardet had to settle for second spot; he was beaten by China’s Xiang Peng (16-14, 4-11, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8) who duly remained unbeaten to top the group. Xiang Peng is presently listed at no.185 on the Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings.
First place contrary to status for Xiang Peng, it was the same for colleagues Kuang Li and Tao Yuchang; likewise, Yu Heyi also from China, the highest listed on first phase duty, topped his initial phase group.
Success for China, there was also notable success for Switzerland and India; for the former against the odds, Elias Hardmeier and Pedro Osiro secured first positions, as did India’s Deepit Patel.
Players finishing in first and second positions in each group advance to the main draw.