19 May 2018

Players new to the international scene, no current world ranking, China’s Gao Yanan, Wang Xiaotong and Wei Yuanhui emerged the winners of the Girls’ Team title at the 2018 Slovak Junior Open in Senec on Friday 18th May.

In the second phase of proceedings they dominated from start to finish, not one single individual match was surrendered; the only player during the first two days of action to dent a perfect record being Yukari Sugasawa.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

On the opening day of play, in the group phase, the Chinese trio had overcome Japan, the no.5 seeds, by three matches to two; the thorn in the side of the champions elect had been Yukari Sugasawa. She had beaten both Wei Yuanhui (11-6, 11-8, 11-6) and Wang Xiaotong (11-6, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8).

One day later the two teams met again; this time in the final, there was no charity. Wang Xiaotong accounted for Honami Nakamori (11-8, 11-3, 11-6), Wei Yuanhui avenged her defeat of the previous day by beating Yukari Sugasawa (10-12, 11-5, 11-3, 11-8), before Gao Yanan brought matters to a conclusion. She overcame Hikaro Okubo (11-5, 11-7, 11-9).

Convincing, it had been the same at the quarter and semi-final rounds. The no.3 seeds, Slovakia represented by Natalia Grigelova, Tatiana Kukulkova and Nikoleta Puchovanova experienced a conclusive defeat. They were followed by Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn, Katarzyna Wegrzyn and Julia Szymczak, the no.2 seeds, who suffered the same fate.

The closest to upsetting the in-form Chinese trio was Anna Wegrzyn, she extended Wei Yuanhui, the full five games distance, only experiencing disappointment by the minimal two point margin in the decider (11-7, 8-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-9).

No great moments of drama for China en route to the final; for Japan it was very different.

At the quarter-final stage a three-two success had been recorded against Croatia’s Andrea Pavlovic, Marta Vukelic and Klara Bardac, the no.4 seeds, before in the penultimate round the same margin of victory was posted in opposition to the top seeds, Chinese Taipei’s Yu Hsiu-Ting, Chen Ting-Ting and Chien Tung-Chuan.

Notably in both fixtures Honami Nakamori was the heroine; in the vital fifth and deciding match against Croatia, she beat Marta Vukelic (9-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8), one round later in opposition to Chinese Taipei, she repeated the feat. She overcame Chen Ting-Ting, the highest ranked player on duty in Senec, to seal the victory (7-11, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6).

Team events concluded; the focus is now on the individual competitions; proceedings conclude on Sunday 20th May.

World Junior Circuit 2018 Slovak Junior Open Wang Xiaotong Wei Yuanhui Gao Yanan

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