2019 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships
Ulanbaator - Monday 2nd to Saturday 7th September
Xiang Peng defends title in Ulanbaator
Winner one year ago when he beat colleague, Niu Guankai in the final in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar; China’s Xiang Peng defends his junior boys’ singles title at the forthcoming 2019 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships.
Play commences in Ulanbaator on Monday 2nd Sep.
Success in Myanmar was one of several notable performances for Xiang Peng in 2018; in addition he won the cadet boys’ singles titles on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Oman, France, Thailand, Poland and Hong Kong. Also in Bangkok he was the junior boys’ singles runner up losing to compatriot Kuang Li.
In Ulanbaator Xiang Peng lines up alongside Liu Yebo, Xu Yingbin and Zeng Beixun; all players who can have a major impact on title destiny. Last year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, Liu Yebo won in Hungary whilst being the runner up in both Hong Kong and on home soil in China. Moreover, this year in February he was a men’s singles semi-finalist at the ITTF Challenge Portugal Open.
Similarly, in 2018 Zeng Beixun secured the junior boys’ singles title in Serbia as well as being crowned the boys’ singles champion at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Tottori. A most credit effort, it is a tournament that has been won in the past by celebrated names, the most celebrated of all being his compatriot, Ma Long, the reigning Olympic and World champion. On Sunday 2nd November 2003, he beat Japan’s Jun Mizutani in Genting, Malaysia, to secure the top prize.
Notable successes, Xu Yingbin is not to be left out; like Liu Yebo, earlier this year he excelled in the men’s singles event at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Portugal Open, he reached the quarter-final round losing to the vast experience of Vladimir Samsonov of Belarus. In the Mongolian capital city, Xu Yingbin will be striving to improve on last year’s efforts; in Nay Pyi Taw he was beaten at the semi-final stage by Niu Guankai.
In Ulanbaator, in the junior boys’ singles event Xiang Peng is the no.2 seed, Liu Yebo, the no.4 seed with Zeng Beixun, the no.6 seed and Xu Yingbin, the no.13 seed.
Heading the list is Singapore’s Pang Yew En Koen, quarter-finalist at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games and earlier this year in August the runner up in the junior boys’ singles event at the Hang Seng Hong Kong Junior and Cadet Open, notably beaten in the final by Iran’s Amin Ahmadian, the no.5 seed in Ulanbaator.
Highly seeded places for Singapore and for Iran; it is the same for India. Manush Utpalbhai Shah is the no.3 seed; impressively last year on the ITTF World Junior Circuit he was the runner up in Jordan, beaten in the final by Chinese Taipei’s Li Hsin-Yang.
There is no Li Hsin-Yang on duty in Mongolia, he is now over age but there is strong representation from Chinese Taipei. The names of Tai Ming-Wei, Huang Yu-Jen and Feng Yi-Hsin alongside Li Hsin-Yu all appear on the entry list.
Tai Ming-Wei is the no.8 seed, followed immediately by Huang Yu-Jen and Feng Yi-Hsin; Li Hsin-Yu is the no.17 seed. Earlier this year on Wednesday 1st May, Huang Yu-Jen beat Tai Ming-Wei in the junior boys’ singles final at the Australian Junior and Cadet Open. Later in the month on the ITTF Challenge Series, Feng Yi-Hsin won the under 21 men’s singles title in Slovenia, two weeks later, Li Hsin-Yu followed suit in Thailand.
A strong challenge from Chinese Taipei, it is the same in the junior boys’ singles event from Japan. Hiroto Shinozuka is the no.7 seed, Yukiya Uda, the no.11 seed and Shunsuke Togami, the no.19 seed. All three have very much focused their attentions this year on the senior scene; thus absence from junior events means their listing is rather lower than may have been anticipated.
Last year Shunsuke Shinzozuka was the player Zeng Beixun beat in the final at the ITTF Cadet Challenge; also he reached the semi-final stage of the junior boys’ singles event on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in France.
Certainly he is a challenger for honours but is the greater challenge to Chinese hegemony from Yukiya Uda and Shunsuke Togami?
Last December Yukiya Uda was the runner up in the boys’ singles event at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Bendigo, Australia; he was beaten by China’s Xu Haidong, now over age. Notable success for Yukiya Uda, it has been the same from Shunsuke Togami; since 2017 when the ITTF Challenge Series became an entity in its own right, as opposed to being part of the ITTF World Tour, in under 21 men’s singles events, Shunsuke Togami is the most successful of all. He is only player to win three times, he won in 2017 and 2018 in Belgium, earlier this year in Portugal.
Now the successes of Yukiya Uda and Shunsuke Togami have one common factor. The player Yukiya Uda beat in the semi-final in Australia and the player Shunsuke Togami overcame in Portugal are one and the same, a certain Xiang Peng!
Editor: Ian Marshall
Photo Credit: ITTF