by Ian Marshall, ITTF Editor
The winner in Italy, he is the top seed in the Junior Boys’ Singles event ahead of Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen and Japan’s Takeru Kashiwa. Chinese Taipei’s Tai Ming-Wei, Germany’s Kay Stumper and Meng Fanbo, alongside Aoto Asazu, also from Japan, complete the top eight names.
Notably of that group both Aoto Asazu and Takeru Kashiwa will be competing in no less than their seventh ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament of the year; the best for Aoto Asazu being a quarter-final finish in both Belgium and Sweden, for Takeru Kashiwa, the runners up spot in Slovakia.
Similarly, Yanapong Panagitun and Pang Yew En Koen have both enjoyed success on their travels and at opposite sides of the world. Yanapong Panagitgun was the runner up in Paraguay, Pang Yew En Koen won in the Cook Islands. Somewhat differently, Tai Ming-Wei, Kay Stumper and Meng Fanbo have yet to make their mark.
However, it is the Junior Boys’ Team and Cadet Boys’ Team events that commence play in Hong Kong.
Xu Haidong lines up alongside Lin Yebo and Niu Guankai. In early July, Lin Yebo was the runner up on home soil in Taicang, whilst Niu Guankai was on duty with Xu Haidong at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda.
In the Italian resort Niu Guankai reached the semi-final round of the Junior Boys’ Singles event losing narrowly to Sweden’s Truls Moregard; a notable performance considering at the time he was only 15 years old. Earlier in the year, he had won the Boys’ Singles title at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Suva, having also retained his Cadet Boys’ Singles crown at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Asan. Notably the previous year the player he beat in the final was a certain young Japanese opponent named Tomokazu Harimoto.
Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun, Supakron Pankhaoyoy and Tananan Tantakool form the second seeded combination followed by the European combination of Frenchman Dorian Zheng who teams with Kay Stumper and Meng Fanbo. Singapore, represented by Josh Shao Han Chua, Pang Yew En Koen and Gerald Yu Zong Jun complete the top four seeded outfits.
China, clear favourites in the Junior Boys’ Team event, it is the same in the Cadet Boys’ Team competition. Xiang Peng, Zeng Beixun and Zhu Jiaqi form the selection.
Xiang Peng is very much the leading name. He won the Junior Boys’ Singles title in Poland, in Thailand he was the runner up, whilst in both France and Italy he reached the penultimate round. Similarly, he was crowned Cadet Boys’ Singles champion in both Italy and Thailand whilst being the runner up in France.
Also, Zeng Beixun and Zhu Jiaqi have reached the latter stages of Cadet Boys’ Singles events; Zeng Beixun was runner in Poland, Zhu Jiaqi, a semi-finalist in Thailand.
In Hong Kong, they form the top seeded outfit ahead of the Indian formation of Payas Jain, Arush Dutt and Maanav Mehta; Singapore’s Nicholas Chong, Andy Wong Yan Kai comprise the third seeded outfit pursued by Iran’s Navid Shams who joins forces with Hong Kong’s Lui Shing Hang and Lee Pok Kwan, complete the top for seeds.
Both the Junior Boys’ Team and Cadet Boys’ Team events conclude on Thursday 2nd August.