by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
He is the 55th highest ranked player on duty, in fact he is not amongst the elite names from his own country! Artur Grela leads the Polish challenge followed by Przemyslaw Walaszek, Jan Zandecki, Kamil Dziadek and Kacper Petas; all are named above Samuel Kulczycki but none can match his achievements of recent times.
In addition to his success in Slovakia, he reached the quarter-final stage in Italy.
Furthermore, of the 119 players who have enrolled for the Junior Boys’ Singles event; it is difficult to find any player who can match or better the efforts of Samuel Kulczycki. The main candidates are Sweden’s Truls Moregard, Ioannis Sgouropoulos of Greece and China’s Yuan Licen; all have won ITTF World Junior Circuit Boys’ Singles titles this year.
Just as with Samuel Kulczycki, all three are making their third ITTF World Junior Circuit appearance of the year. Truls Moregard won on home soil in Sweden before being the runner up in Spain, Ioannis Sgouropoulos stuck gold in Belgium having earlier in the year reached the third round in the Czech Republic. Meanwhile Yuan Licen succeeded in Oman, the first tournament of the year, prior to being a semi-finalist in Italy.
In Wladyslawowo-Cetniewo, Truls Moregard is the no.6 seed, one place ahead of Ioannis Sgouropoulos; Yuan Licen is the 19th name in the order of merit.
Add the name of Samuel Kulczycki and all four have a better records this year than the elite names on the Polish entry list.
Romania’s Rares Sipos and Cristian Pletea are the respective top two names; just as with Egypt’s Youssef Abdel-Aziz, the next in line, all three have made just one prior ITTF World Junior Circuit appearance this year. They competed in the Czech Republic; Rares Sipos and Youssef Abdel-Aziz progressed to the quarter-finals, Cristian Pletea departed one round earlier.
Near but not quite near enough, it is the same for Chinese Taipei’s Feng Yi-Hsin, the no.4 seed, on his one previous appearance of the year, he was the runner up in France. Likewise, China’s Xu Yingbin, the no.5 seed, on his three appearances, always he has departed proceedings in the penultimate round. He was a semi-finalist in the Czech Republic, France and Thailand.
Completing leading names is Li Hsin-Yang, he is the no.8 seed and like Feng Yi-Hsin from Chinese Taipei and on duty in France where he bid farewell in round two. He has more than any other of the prominent names a point to prove.
Notably the top eight players receive a direct entry to the main draw.