by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Favourite for gold but Shi Xunyao faces tough competition, the major threat to her aspirations being from her colleagues, the name of Zhang Binyue is most prominent.
She is the no.5 seed but more importantly, she is the one player with the perfect record; she has played in two ITTF World Junior Circuit tournaments this year and on both occasions she has emerged the champion.
Equally, Chen Yi, Wu Wangchen, Kuai Man and Li Yuqi are all Chinese names to note.
Chen Yi, the no.7 seed and Wu Wangchen, the no.9 seed, were both semi-finalists earlier this year in Italy. Meanwhile, Kuai Man, only 14 years old, was the runner up in the Cadet Girls’ Singles event in early February in Oman; Li Yuqi on her one and only ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament of the year, reached the second round in Poland.
Li Yuqi has yet to prove herself; that is very much the situation with regards to the Hong Kong contingent comprising Chau Wing Sze, Wong Chin Yau, Lee Ka Yee and Fung Wai Chu. All have yet to make their presence felt.
Chau Wing Sze, the no.2 seed, who to date has competed in Belgium, France and Thailand, has yet to progress beyond the second round; for Wong Chin Yau, the no.3 seed, her best is a quarter-final finish in Belgium. It is very similar for Lee Ka Yee, the no.4 seed, her most successful venture this year is a third round exit in France.
Somewhat differently for Feng Wai Chu, the no.6 seed, it is her first ITTF World Junior Circuit appearance of the year.
Unquestionably if the Hong Kong delegation is to upset the hosts, they must raise their level of play a few notches but one player who raised her level this year and could pose problems is Japan’s Haruna Ojio.
She departed proceedings in the second round of the Junior Girls’ Singles event in the Czech Republic but in Sweden she was a semi-finalist, in Thailand a quarter-finalist.
Winning the title may be a few steps too far this year but back her in 2023; she is only 12 years old!
Matters commence with the team competitions. China represented by Shi Xunyao, Zhang Binyue and Wu Yangchen head the Junior Girls’ Team seeding; next on the list is Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze, Fung Wai Chu and Lee Ka Yee.
Likewise, in the Cadet Girls’ Team competition, in the guise of Chen Yi, Li Yuqi and Kuai Man, China occupies top spot; Hong Kong represented by Phoebe Hui Wai and Ng Wing Lam occupy the second seeded position.