02 Aug 2018

Gold for China’s Xiang Peng and Zeng Bian but it was Japan’s 11 year old Sora Matsushima and Ryoichi Yoshiyama, three years the elder, who stole the show in the Cadet Boys’ Team event at the 2018 Hang Seng Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open.

A three-one defeat was the outcome against the top seeds on the evening of Thursday 2nd August but when taking into account the ages of the Land of the Rising Sun duo and the fact that neither possesses a current world ranking, it was a remarkable performance.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Furthermore, the score line was arguably closer than may be suggested; three of the four matches went the full distance, only the doubles was secured in convincing style.

Ryoichi Yoshiyama gave Japan the perfect start; he recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Zeng Beixun (9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9), before Sora Matsushima, who earlier this year had attracted the attention at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Lion Japan Open when losing to Hong Kong’s Ho Kwan Kit in the Men’s Singles qualification tournament, extended Xiang Peng the full distance (6-11, 11-2, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6).

Matters level, a straight games doubles win was posted (11-4, 11-4, 11-4), before Xiang Peng secured victory by defeating Ryoichi Yoshiyama, as against Sora Matsushima in five games (11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 3-11, 11-4).

Notably, in the whole event, the defeat experienced by Zeng Beixun was the only reverse suffered by the Chinese duo. First place in the initial phase group without a blemish, a direct entry to the quarter-finals was thus secured.

Zhu Jiaqi added to the team for the doubles in partnership with Zeng Beixun, a three-nil win was recorded against the Hong Kong ‘B’ team duo of Baldwin Chan Ho Wah and Choy Chun Kit, before in the penultimate round, with Zhu Jiaqi once again resigned to the bench, the same margin of success was posted in opposition to Singapore’s Nicholas Chong and Andy Wong Yan Kai.

Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, at the quarter-final stage Sora Matsushima and Ryoichi Yoshiyama had overcome the combination of Iran’s Navid Shams and the host’s Lui Shing Hang, the no.4 seeds, by three matches to nil, prior to recording a three-two success in opposition to the Hong Kong ‘A’ team duo of Yiu Kwan To and Yu Nok, the no.2 seeds.

It was a win that after the opening to matches looked a far cry. Sora Matsushima lost to Yiu Kwan To by the very narrowest of margins in the opening contest (11-4, 7-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-9), before Ryoichi Yoshiyama experienced defeat in a rather more convincing manner when facing Yu Nok (11-9, 11-7, 11-4).

The doubles beckoned; a four games win was recorded (11-7, 11-8, 10-12, 15-13), prior to Ryoichi Yoshiyama accounting for Yiu Kwan To (11-13, 14-12, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7) and Sora Matsushima ending matters by beating Yu Nok (11-8, 5-11, 13-11, 11-9).

Proceedings over in the Cadet Boys’ Team competition, the focus now turns to the individual events; play concludes ion Sunday 5th August.

World Junior Circuit 2018 Hong Kong Junior & Cadet Open Sora Matsushima Ryoichi Yoshiyama

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