by Ian Marshall, Editor
However, there can be no room for complacency; two very talented left handers of very similar styles could well pose problems.
Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen is the no.2 seed, further down the order Nikhil Kumar of the United States is the no.7 seed; very much alike but there is one significant difference, the start to the year.
Last week at the Czech Junior and Cadet Open in Hodonin, Pan Yew En Koen, the top seed, suffered a somewhat surprise third round junior boys’ singles defeat; not a major upset, he was beaten by Belgium’s very impressive Adrien Rassenfosse. However, we expected further progress from the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games quarter-finalist.
Conversely, at the start of the month Nikhil Kumar was in sparkling form at the Universal Pan America Cup in the Puerto Rican city of Guaynabo; against the odds, the lowest rated player in his group, he beat Mexico’s Marcos Madrid, the no.5 seed and the Dominican Republic’s Emil Santos, the no.10 seed, to book his place in the quarter-finals. Paraguay’s Marcelo Aguirre, the no.4 seed, ended matters.
Challengers for honours, most certainly Pang Yew En Koen is not alone; he is not the only Singaporean who may upset the batting order. Josh Shao Han Chua is the no.4 seed, he was a semi-finalist last year in both Canada and Serbia; additionally yet to really make his presence felt, Gerald Yu Zong Jun is the no.6 seed.
It is very much the same for Italy’s Carlo Rossi, the no.5 seed and Norway’s Borgar Haug, the no.8 seed, both have yet to set the stage alight, not for Germany’s Kay Stumper, the no.3 seed. Last year Kay Stumper reached the semi-final round in Hong Kong.
High standard contests can be expected; it is the same in the cadet boys’ singles competition; appearing at no.3 on the current under 15 boys’ world rankings, German’s Mike Hollo is the top seed. He is followed by Japan’s Sora Matsushima, listed at no.5, Australia’s Finn Luu at no.12 and Russia’s Vladislav Makarov at no.18.
However, the name to note is the Russian further down the list; Denis Izumrudov is the no.7 seed; two days ago he won in the Czech Republic.
In both the junior boys’ singles and cadet boys’ singles events, the top 16 names receive direct entries to the main draw; in the mini-cadet boys’ singles, where Sora Matsushima and Singapore’s Isaac Quek Yong are the respective leading names, all entrants compete in the group stage.