17 Nov 2018

The first titles decided at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open; on the afternoon of Saturday 17th November, it was success for China.

Zhao Zihao secured Under 21 Men’s Singles gold accounting for Russia’s Denis Ivonin at the final hurdle (11-8, 11-8, 11-3), the success coming immediately after colleague He Aige, in a rather closer contest, had overcome Japan’s Miku Izumo (11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-4).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Notably for all four players it was their first ever appearance in such a final, either at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament or on the ITTF World Tour; furthermore, for He Aige it was her international debut.

Winner of the Junior Boys’ Singles title in Cairo at the 2017 Egypt Junior and Cadet Open, Denis Ivonin was the only member of the quartet whose name has appeared in recent years on a regular basis at international events, since 2014 he has been no stranger to the ITTF World Junior Circuit or ITTF Challenge Series tournaments.

Rather differently for Zhao Zihao, he appeared on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 in Sweden, before earlier this year being on duty in Bulgaria; he did not feature in the Under 21 Men’s Singles event but was on Men’s Singles duty reaching the last preliminary round where Chinese Taipei’s Lin Yun-Ju ended progress.

Meanwhile, for Miku Izumo, like He Aige, it was her first ITTF Challenge Series of ITTF World Tour appearance; her one previous international excursion of note being earlier this year in Myanmar at the 2018 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships. She reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, losing to China’s Qian Tianyi, the champion elect.

Success for Zhao Zihao and He Aige and success in both events once again this year at an ITTF Challenge Series tournament for China; in August at the ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos the respective Under 21 Men’s Singles and Under 21 Women’s Singles events had been won by Wang Shaobo and Guo Yan.

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Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Zhao Zihao He Aige

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open