07 Feb 2019

Contrary to all expectations Lev Katsman, in partnership with Russian colleague, Maxsim Grebnev, finished in runners up spot in the junior boys’ doubles event at the 2018 World Junior Championships staged last December in Bendigo; they started proceedings as the no.14 seeds; they caused upset after upset.

Now at the five day 2019 Bahrain Junior and Cadet Open, which commences in Manama on Thursday 7th February, it is a very different situation for the 17 year old; he is the favourite for gold, the junior boys’ singles top seed.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Now his task is to impose himself on the ITTF World Junior Circuit; his best junior boys’ singles effort to date being the quarter-final finish last year in Spain, a round he also reached in the under 21 men’s singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open.

In Manama, he faces stiff opposition in his quest for a first title, most notably from France in the guise of Lilian Bardet and Dorian Zheng. Significantly, Lilian Bardet is the one player on duty in Manama with an ITTF World Junior Circuit boys’ singles title to his credit; he won in 2017 in Belgium, last year his best was a semi-final finish in Hungary. Equally, Dorian Zheng has enjoyed ITTF World Junior Circuit success of note; in 2017 he was crowned cadet boys’ singles champion in Sweden, whilst last year he was a junior boys’ singles quarter-finalist in Hong Kong.

Listed at no.22 on the current Under 18 Boys’ World Rankings, Lilian Bardet is the no.2 seed in Manama. He is named just one place behind Lev Katsman who occupies the no.21 spot; Dorian Zheng is resident at no.37 and reserves the no.4 seeded position, one place behind Egypt’s Marwan Abdelwahab, the runner up last year on home soil in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Strong competition for Lev Katsman and continuing down the order there are more worthy opponents. Also from Egypt, Ahmed Elborhamy and Abdelrahman Dendan appear amongst the top eight names as do those of India’s Raegan Alburquerque and Iran’s Radin Khayyam. Last year Ahmed Elborhamy was the junior boys’ singles runner up in the Ivory Coast, Raegan Alburquerque achieved the same finish in Egypt. Meanwhile, Abdelrahman Dendan was a quarter-finalist in Egypt, Radim Khayyam won the cadet boys’ singles title in Chinese Taipei.

Intense competition and high level competition; it is the very same in the cadet boys’ singles event. Standing in the no.4 spot on the current Under 15 Boys’ World Ranking, India’s Payas Jain heads the list, he is pursued by the Czech Republic’s Simon Belik and Iran’s Navid Shams Both are highly ranked, Simon Belik appears at no.7, Navid Shams at no.9; Saudi Arabia’s Khalid Alshareif, list at no.36, completes the top four names.

Overall 69 entries have been received for the junior boys’ singles event; 46 players will compete in the cadet boys’ singles competition.

World Junior Circuit 2019 Bahrain Junior & Cadet Open Lev Katsman Dorian Zheng Lilian Bardet Marwan Abdelwahab

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