by Ian Marshall
Xiang Peng, the no.29 seed, recorded a semi-final success to beat India’s Payas Jain, the no.3 seed (11-4, 10-12, 11-4, 11-2, 11-1), prior to maintaining the momentum to overcome Poland’s Samuel Kulczycki, the no.15 seed (11-9, 11-9, 11-1, 12-10).
“I am very happy to be the champion. I think I played quite well and clever in the final. It was my best performance in the World Youth Championships. I feel relieved and so happy.” Xiang Peng
Runner up earlier in the year at the European Youth Championships in Varazdin; once again Samuel Kulczycki displayed his high quality. At the semi-final stage he overcame Zeng Beixun, the no.31 seed (14-12, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6) and thus prevented an all Chinese final.
Seven games decider
Likewise, Japan’s Miyu Kihara, the no.17 seed, prevented an all Chinese girls’ singles final and came very near to preventing Chinese gold.
In the penultimate round she overcame Wu Yangchen, the no.25 seed (11-7, 2-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-7), before extending Kuai Man, the no.27 seed, the full seven games distance (12-10, 11-7, 8-11, 11-5, 10-12, 7-11, 11-8).
“I’m very happy, I was able to win thanks to our teamwork, I’m proud for our nation. Both of us played very well in the final, I was just able to play better in the key moments, which enabled me win the match.” Kuai Man
Earlier at the semi-final stage Kuai Man had also doused Japanese aspirations, she accounted for Haruna Ojio, the no.23 seed (5-11, 11-6, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5), the runner up two years earlier in Korat, when the tournament was known as the World Junior Championships.
Meanwhile, Xiang Peng, having won in Korat, became the first player to secure the boys’ singles title on consecutive occasion, under 18 being the age group two years ago.
Success yet again for China who have now struck boys’ singles gold 11 times.
Significantly, there was a breakthrough, Payas Jain alongside Suhana Saini became the first Indian players to claim medals at the tournament first staged in 2003 in Santiago.
Also, there was déjà vu; the only previous occasion when China and Japan had met in the girls’ singles final was in Bratislava in 2010. On that occasion the verdict had been the same, Zhu Yuling beat Kasumi Ishikawa.
Success for Kuai Man means she became the 15th Chinese player to win the girls’ singles title.