21 Dec 2018

Present just under two months ago at the World Cadet Challenge in the Japanese city of Tottori, both 14 years of age, Puerto Rico’s Angel Naranjo and the host nation’s Rachel Sung emerged the players to attract the attention as the qualification stage of the group stage of proceedings in the respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles events at the 2018 United States Open in Orlando came to a conclusion on Tuesday 18th December.

Both remained unbeaten in their respective groups and thus reserved main draw places.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Angel Naranjo beat Canada’s Luc Sicard (11-8, 11-8, 11-6) and the host nation’s Mohammed Ali (8-11, 17-15, 6-11, 12-10, 11-7) to secure first place.

Outstanding form from Angel Naranjo, it was the same from Rachel Sung. She accounted for Japan’s Eka So (6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8), Canada’s Sophie Gauthier (11-2, 11-5, 11-2) and Colombia’s Lady Ruano (9-11, 11-6, 11-1, 11-7).

The wins in opposition to Eka So, a right handed pen-holder and Lady Ruano were of particular note; in Under 21 Women’s Singles events on the ITTF World Tour in 2013 in Belarus and the following year in Belgium, Eka So was the runner up. Meanwhile, in 2016, Lady Ruano won the ITTF Latin American Cup in Guatemala, whilst also competing in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

In addition to the ITTF World Cadet Challenge, Rachel Sung competed in the World Junior Championships in Bendigo (Photo: Rémy Gros)


Names to note and there were two other names to note but names from earlier eras.

In the Men’s Singles event, the host nation’s Wang Jinxin, not listed amongst the top 16 names and thus required to compete in the qualification phase, accounted for Shao Yu (11-8, 5-11, 11-7, 11-6) and Yiu Jie (11-5, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5), both from the United States, to secure first place in the group.

Similarly, in the Women’s Singles competition, Jia Jun not named amongst the top eight who gained direct entry to the main draw, finished in first place in her group. She beat United States colleagues Zha Wenting (13-11, 11-6, 14-12) and Wang Chen (6-11, 11-3, 11-9, 12-10) in addition to Canada’s Emilia Cabrera Mallette (11-4, 11-4, 11-4).

The win in opposition to Wang Chen is one to note; she reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, whilst earlier in her career, when representing China on the ITTF World Tour in 1996, she won Women’s Singles titles in China and Australia, one year later she succeeded in Malaysia.

A shock result, maybe not; in November 2003 Jia Jun won the Girls’ Singles title at the ITTF World Junior Circuit Finals in Malaysia, she beat Hungary’s Georgina Pota in the final. The event was organized alongside the ITTF World Cadet Challenge; the Boys’ Singles title was won by Ma Long, he beat Japan’s Jun Mizutani to claim the top prize, the counterpart Girls’ Singles event also finished in Chinese hands. Feng Yalan beat Ding Ning in the final.

Now all four names progressed to win ITTF World Tour titles, Ma Long and Ding Ning climbing to the greatest heights; the ITTF World Cadet Challenge proved a stepping stone.

Angel Naranjo and Rachel Sung take note!

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2018 United States Open: Feature articles by Matt Hetherington and Richard Finn

2018 United States Open Rachel Sung Angel Naranjo