The 14-year-old phenom
The youngest female player in Busan, Shin Yubin turns 15 this Friday, and she got the party going early Monday with a first round win against Japan’s Kaho Akae. Though she be young, Korea’s “table tennis genius” has already proven fierce: she made the quarter finals at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Series in Croatia and semifinals at last year’s Belgian Open.
Shin didn’t come out of nowhere — in fact, she’s been marked out for glory since she was a schoolgirl. At the 2010 ITTF World Tour Grand Final in Seoul, Shin was selected to play an exhibition with 1988 Olympic men’s singles champion Yoo Namkyu at the 2010. At the time, she was seven years old.
The Christmas miracle
Speaking of birthdays, An Jaehyun arrived on Christmas Day 1999, and the 19-year-old right hander has already gifted his country a medal from the World Championships. In his first worlds appearance in Budapest in April, An comported himself like a player older than his years, dispatching no less than Wong Chun Ting and world #4 Tomokazu Harimoto as he clinched bronze in men’s singles.
He began his campaign Monday with a steady 4-0 win against Uzbekistan’s Elmurod Kholikov, before notching a 3-0 doubles victory with new partner Cho Daesong.
The double threat
Sixteen-year-old Cho Daeseong was a double winner Monday, cruising smoothly to a win against Taipei’s Cheng Hao-Huan 11-5, 11-8, 11-3, 11-6. He also served as the left-hander to An Jaehyun’s right hander in men’s doubles, and so far the combination is working: The pair made quick work of Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Wang Yang, defeating the Slovaks in three games.
The comeback kid
The U-21 champion from last year’s Swedish Open, Cho Seungmin cracked the top 40 as a singles player in 2018. Now 21, Cho has made it to the round of 32 twice already this year in ITTF World Tour Platinum play. He’s shown staying power so far in Busan: after dropping his first game 7-11 to Taipei’s Hu Chung-Wen, Cho stormed the next four, holding Hu to single point in the third to take the match 4-1. Preliminary competition in Busan continues Tuesday.