18 Apr 2019

First place in the group on Wednesday 17th April, the only option to secure a quarter-final place in the junior boys’ team event at the 2019 Belgium Junior and Cadet Open in Spa; Russia, the top seeded outfit, duly completed their initial phase mission without defeat.

However, for the trio comprising Maksim Grebnev, Lev Katsman and Artrem Tikhonov that success was hard earned.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

They were tested by the Japanese combination of Hiroto Shinozuka, Hayate Suzuki and Jo Yokotani; a 3-1 win was the end result but two of those successes were by the minimal margin in the deciding game.

Hiroto Shinozuka gave his team the best possible start by beating Lev Katsman, (11-8, 11-4, 11-4), the highest rated player on duty in Spa, before Maksim Grebnev overcame Jo Yokotani (11-4, 9-11, 6-11, 11-8, 11-9) and Artem Tikhonov swayed the momentum in favour of Russia. He accounted for Hayate Suzuki in a further nail-biting contest (6-11, 11-4, 1-11, 11-7, 11-9). Stung by the earlier reverse, Lev Katsman returned to the table, in some style he ended matters by overcoming Jo Yokotani (11-9, 11-9, 11-6).

Success for the top seeds, it was also first places in the group phase for the other major medal contenders. The second seeds, the formation of Iran’s Amin Ahmadian and Radin Khayyam alongside India’s Manush Utpalbhai Shah and Raegan Alburquerque duly topped their group, as did the third seeded outfit formed by Austria’s Maciej Kolodziejczyk, Belgium’s David Cameliau and Serbia’s Dimitrije Levajac.

However, further down list there were surprise first places. The no.9 seeds, the Chinese Taipei trio formed by Feng Yi-Hsin, Huang Yan-Cheng and Li Hsin-Yu remained unbeaten, notably recording a 3-0 win against the no.7 seeds, Germany’s Kirill Fadeev, Daniel Rinderer and Kay Stumper.

Similarly, New Zealand’s Nathan Xu alongside Japan’s Takeru Kashiwa and Ryoichi Yoshiyama, the no.10 seeds, finished ahead of the no.8 seeds, the outfit comprising Canada’s Edward Ly, who joined forces with Gal Alguetti and Sharon Alguetti of the United States.

Play in the junior boys’ team competition concludes on Thursday 18th April.

World Junior Circuit 2019 Belgium Junior and Cadet Open Lev Katsman Maksim Grebnev Artem Tikhonov

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