31 Oct 2019

Winner on the ITTF World Junior Circuit last year in Oman; alongside Chinese colleague, Gao Yang and Hungary’s Lu Kaiyang, Yuan Licen was very much a young man to attract the attention as matters progressed in the qualification stage of the men’s singles event at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk on Wednesday 30th October.

Similarly, in the counterpart women’s singles event, the spotlight fell on Russia’s Dora Chernoray.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

All concluded their group stage matches unbeaten; all upsetting the odds by overcoming the highest rated player in their respective groups.

New to the international arena, Lu Kaiyang beat Denmark’s Tobias Rasmussen (6-11, 12-10, 11-13, 12-10, 11-9); Gao Yang overcame Turkey’s Abdullah Yingeler (13-11, 4-11, 11-7, 11-5), Yuan Licen ended the hopes of Slovenia’s Peter Hribar (11-5, 11-8, 11-3).

However, only Lu Kaiyang is guaranteed a place in the main draw. In the men’s singles event, there are 46 groups in the initial phase; first position in group no.1 to group no.18 affords a direct route, for those who secure top spot in the remaining groups, a preliminary round ensues. Lu Kaiyang appeared in group no.6, Gao Yang in group no.30, Yuan Licen in group no.37.

Gao Yang was a quarter-finalist earlier this year at the Italian Junior and Cadet Open (Photo: Iona Nechita)
Contrary to status

Success contrary to status, also from China, it was the same Xie Confang. Zhao Zhaoyan and Yan Sheng. Likewise all beat the leading name on duty but being in groups of four players, one match remains.

Notably Xie Confang beat Russia’s Nikita Artemenko (11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 9-11, 11-9), Zhao Zhaoyan accounted for Moldova’s Andrei Putuntica (3-11, 11-6, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5), Yan Sheng overcame Petr Fedotov, like Nikita Artemenko from Russia (12-10, 11-4, 11-3).

Andrei Putuntica beaten by Zhao Zhaoyan (Photo by Rémy Gros)
Balanced books

Troubles for Russia, Dora Chernoray to some extent balanced the books; in a competition where there are 32 groups in the qualifying stage, first position reserving a main draw place, she emerged the only player on the opening day of action to be assured of progress.

After receiving a walk-over when due to face Korea Republic’s Lee Yearam; she overcame the host nation’s Alina Nikitchanka, the leading name in the group to seal first place (11-4, 9-11, 11-8, 11-6).

Dora Chernoray, a place in the main draw reserved (Photo: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki)
Similar good form

Good form from Dora Chernoray, it was the same from Germany’s Franziska Schreiner and Yuki Tsutsui as it was from China’s Yang Yiyun and Wang Xiaotong. All have one match still to play in their initial stage but having remained unbeaten on the opening day and having overcome the top name in their group, they are well on course for a main draw berth.

Significantly, Franziska Scheiner beat Katsiaryna Baravok of Belarus (9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6), Yuki Tsutsui overcame Russia’s Anastasiia Komova (11-9, 11-9, 11-9). Likewise, Yang Yiyun accounted for Olga Kulikova (11-4, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8), Wang Xiaotong prevailed in opposition to Croatia’s Ivana Tubikanec (11-5, 11-3, 14-12).

Surprises but not amongst the leading names on qualification stage in duty. Required to play just one match, in the men’s singles event Ukraine’s Yaroslav Zhmudenko, Uzbekistan’s Zokhid Kenjaev and Saudi Arabia’s Ali Alkhadrawi alongside Romania’s Rares Sipos all emerged successful, as in the women’s singles events did China’s Feng Yalan, the Czech Republic’s Aneta Siruckova, Germany’s Wan Yuan and Belgium’s Margo Degraef.

A successful start for Wan Yuan (Photo by Rémy Gros)
Major upsets

Performances to catch the eye; it was the same in the under 21 men’s singles event, the focus being on the main event, the opening round being completed.

Russia’s Vladimir Sidorenko, the top seed, made a successful start beating the Ivory Coast’s Zinsou Houdji (11-2, 11-3, 10-12, 11-5); similarly, Iran’s Amir Hussein Hodaei, the no.4 seed, overcame Congo Democratic’s Gedeon Kassa (11-7, 11-4, 15-17, 11-8).

Wins as expected but in the opposite half of the draw life was very different. Denis Ivonin, like Vladimir Sidorenko from Russia, the no.2 seed, was beaten by Japan’s Hiroto Shinozuka (12-10, 11-8, 11-7); Frenchman, Bastien Rembert, the no.3 seed, suffered at the hands of Poland’s Jan Zandecki (6-11, 12-10, 11-6, 11-7).

Disappointment for Bastien Rembert (Photo: courtesy of Belgosstrakh Belarus Open)
Surprise first places

Meanwhile, in the under 21 women’s singles event where there was a group qualification stage, there was surprises.

Contrary to expectations Poland’s Ana Wegrzyn and Katazyna Wegrzyn secured first places, a feat also achieved by Singapore’s Pearlyn Koh Kai Xin and Isa Cok of France in addition to China’s Yang Yiyun, Shi Xinyao and Chen Yi.

Notably, the leading names on qualification duty, Leili Mostafavi of France and Russia’s Kristina Kazantseva ended the day in first positions.

An unexpected group first place for Katarzyna Wegrzyn (Photo: courtesy of Belgosstrakh Belarus Open)


The leading pairs on preliminary round duty in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles events have yet to start their campaigns; qualification concludes on Thursday 31st October.

Challenge Series 2019 Belarus Open Yuan Licen Lu Kaiyang Gao Yang Dora Chernoray

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Day 3 - 2019 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open