by Ian Marshall, Editor
Beaten by colleague, Yang Shuo one year ago in the final; occupying the top seeded position, on the concluding day of play, Xu Haidong accounted colleagues Niu Guankai (11-7, 11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 11-6) and Liu Yebo (11-6, 11-6, 11-7, 11-7) to arrest the title.
“I was the runner up last year. I’m happy to win this year. It’s my last year to play in the Under 18 age group. I hope I can maintain good performances at senior level.” Xu Haidong
Notably for Niu Guankai, the no.10 seed, it was his first appearance of the year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, for Liu Yebo, not seeded; it was his second excursion and the same outcome. One month earlier on home soil in Taicang, he had been beaten in the final by Japan’s Kakeru Sone (11-6, 2-11. 11-5, 12-10, 11-6).
Runners up spot but there was a special award for Liu Yebo, he received the “Best Challenger” award for each of the concluding two days; the award recognising the most unexpected wins in accordance with the July Under 18 World Rankings.
Meanwhile, for Germany’s Kay Stumper, the no.6 seed, beaten by Liu Yebo in the penultimate round (11-5, 11-9, 14-12, 11-3), it was his best finish of the year.
Success for China, it was success time and time again but one title did escape their grasp. Japan’s Kazuki Hamada and Hiroto Shinozuka, the no.7 seeds, emerged as the surprise Junior Boys’ Doubles winners.
At the final hurdle they beat Hong Kong’s Maurice Chong Kai Ning and Su Zhi, the no.9 seeds (14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 14-12) to secure the title having one round earlier overcome the European combination of Kay Stumper and Frenchman Dorian Zheng, the no.7 seeds (15-13, 11-8, 11-8).
Impressively, in the counterpart semi-final, Maurice Chong Kai Ning and Su Zhi had ended China’s hopes of a clean sweep. They beat Niu Guankai and Xiang Peng, the no.4 seeds, by the very narrowest of decisions (14-12, 11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 14-12).
Proceedings concluded in Hong Kong, attention now turns to Nay Pyi Taw in Myanmar for the 2018 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships, which start on Monday 13th August; also to Central America for the El Salvador Junior and Cadet Open scheduled to begin on Wednesday 15th August.