The 2018 ITTF World Junior Table Tennis Championships very much belonged to China after the nation’s players dominated the final day in Bendigo, Australia, from start to finish.
Today’s individual prizes (Girls’ and Boys’ Singles, Girls’ and Boys’ Doubles, and Mixed Doubles) follow gold medals in Wednesday’s Teams events, thus completing a clean sweep of trophies throughout the tournament.
GIRLS’ SINGLES GOES RIGHT TO THE WIRE
A breath-taking battle between the top two seeds: the Girls’ Singles final more than lived up to its billing and undoubtedly provided the day’s most enthralling final.
SHI Xunyao (CHN) and QIAN Tianyi (CHN) both came into the contest off the back of convincing semi-final victories, the former beating Yumeno SOMA (JPN) 4-0 and the latter dropping just one game to SU Pei-Ling (TPE). Once pitted against one another in the final, neither player gave an inch in a match that went the full distance.
After surrendering a 1-0 lead to then trail 2-1 and 3-2, it had seemed as though QIAN would be ending the day empty-handed. However, she managed to keep her cool when it mattered most, clinching the final two games to come out ultimately on top after a rollercoaster ride of an encounter: 11-8, 5-11, 9-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8.
RUTHLESS WINS FOR CHINA’S BOYS
If the Girls’ Singles contest went right to the wire, the same could not be said for both Boys’ finals, as XU Haidong (CHN) saw off Yukiya UDA (JPN) 4-1 to seal glory in the Boys’ Singles, having partnered XIANG Peng earlier to the Boys’ Doubles title with a straight games victory over Maksim GREBNEV and Lev KATSMAN (RUS).
However, that did not mean there was any less fiery intensity to these matches, with each individual game decided by fine margins:
XU staved off the threat of a potential comeback when UDA took the third game, by battling his way to win 13-11, 11-4, 8-11, 11-9, 11-8.
Meanwhile in the Doubles, XU and XIANG came from behind within the first game to grasp a crucial early foothold in the match. Despite the best efforts of Russia’s dynamic duo GREBNEV and KATSMAN, including an audacious, yet perfectly executed ‘Behind The Back’ shot from the former, China’s Boys never looked back and saw out the victory 11-9, 11-8, 11-3.
SHI XUNYAO DOMINATES IN THE DOUBLES
The star of the show in Wednesday’s Junior Girls’ Teams triumph, just four days later SHI Xunyao (CHN) took centre-stage once more, appearing in three finals on Sunday.
Her rock-solid partnership with HUANG Fanzhen made gold in the Girls’ Doubles all but a formality, as they saw off Miyu NAGASAKI and Satsuki ODO (JPN) 3-1 in the semi-finals, before defeating Miyuu KIHARA and Yumeno SOMA (JPN) in straight games: 11-7, 11-8, 11-6.
Just moments earlier, SHI also tasted success in the Mixed Doubles alongside XU Yingbin, sealing a 3-2 victory in an all-Chinese final against YU Heyi and QIAN Tianyi: 11-8, 3-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-5.
EPIC ENTERTAINMENT FROM PLETEA & CO.
Heart-stopping rallies and shots which seemed to defy the laws of physics to land on the table from surely impossible angles and distances, Cristian PLETEA’s (ROU) gripping victory over YU Heyi (CHN) in Saturday’s Boys’ Singles quarter-final was the perfect advertisement for Table Tennis, providing the kind of adrenaline rush that any and every sports fan craves. His out-of-this-world, winning points attracted approximately 1.8 million impressions on ITTF social media within 24 hours!
PLETEA’s stirring performance to reach the semi-finals, where he was beaten by eventual champion XU Haidong, topped the standout showings from Europe.
Irvin BERTRAND and Leo DE NODREST (FRA) were impressive in overcoming Yukiya UDA and Shunsuke TOGAMI (JPN) to reach the Boys’ Doubles semi-finals, before they were ultimately outfought and thought by GREBNEV and KATSMAN.
NEXT STOP: BANGKOK!
Can anyone break up the current dominance of China at next year’s ITTF World Junior Table Tennis Championships?
The globe’s most promising, upcoming talents will all be headed to Bangkok (THA) between 24 November and 1 December, looking to give their budding careers lift-off for potential future greatness.
Next week it will be Table Tennis’ established stars to battle it out for the big, end-of-year titles at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals. Make sure you don’t miss out on the action, or the 2018 ITTF Star Awards, by following on ITTF.com, tv.ITTF.com and ITTF social media: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Weibo, Youtube.