by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
A talented left hander and very much the young man to spearhead the hopes of Singapore in the next decade, in the Gold Coast Pang Yew En Koen came very close to gaining a medal. Partnering colleague Ethan Poh Shao Feng, the duo experienced defeat in the bronze medal Men’s Doubles contest when facing India’s Harmeet Desai and Sanil Shetty.
Equally, Owen Cathcart impressed in the city on the east coast of Australia; lining up alongside Paul McCreery and Ashley Robinson, he proved vital to the Northern Ireland’s quarter-final finish in the Men’s Team event, before in the Men’s Singles safely negotiating his initial phase group prior to Nigeria’s Bode Abiodun ended adventures.
However, both have yet to really make their presence felt on this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit; in three appearances the best for Pang Yew En Koen is a quarter-final finish in Tunisia, for Owen Cathcart who has made two ventures, his most successful excursion was to Sweden where he reached round three.
In Rarotonga, Pang Yew En Koen is the no.2 seed in the Junior Boys’ Singles competition behind Belgium’s Laurens Devos; Owen Cathcart is the no.5 seed. Sandwiched in between is Jordan’s Khaled Khader, followed by Panama’s Jacobo Vahnish; the no.7 seed, the host nation’s Ben Gould completes the principal names.
Similar to Pang Yew En Koen and Owen Cathcart, Laurens Devos has yet to shine on this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit; his best finished is round four in Sweden, for Jacobo Vahnish and Ben Gould they have yet to negotiate the opening round. Notably both competed in Thailand, the group stage negotiated, it was farewell at the first hurdle.
However, if there is one player who deserves a place on the Junior Boys’ Singles podium through sheer dint of effort, it is Khaled Khader; he is making no less than his seventh ITTF World Junior Circuit appearance of the year.
He was on duty in Oman, the first of the year but only played in the Junior Boys’ Team event; since then he has travelled the world, his appearance in Rarotonga means that in a period of less than five months he will have played in every continent in the world!
I suspect that is record in the history of the ITTF World Junior Circuit which first witnessed the light of day in 2002.
Notably in tournaments linked to the Road to Buenos Aires events, to date he has journeyed to the Czech Republic, Tunisia, Paraguay, Thailand and Canada; his best Junior Boys’ Singles performance, a second round exit in Paraguay and Thailand.
Play commences with the Junior Boys’ Team and Cadet Boys’ Team event,