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2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open Review- ITTF World Junior Circuit

2018 ITTF World Junior Circuit – Oman

Friday 11th February

More titles for China in Muscat

Success in all four team events at the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open earlier in the week; on Sunday 11th February, the closing day of action in Muscat, China added a further four titles to their tally.

Yuan Licen and Zhang Binyue won the respective Junior Boys’ Singles and Junior Girls’ Singles events, the wins coming after Xiang Peng and Li Yuqi had emerged as the Cadet Boys’ Singles and Cadet Girls’ Singles champions.

An all Chinese final witnessed success for Yuan Licen by the very narrowest of margins against Xu Haidong (11-5, 5-11, 11-8, 11-13, 13-11, 9-11, 11-9) in a contest that ebbeded and flowed.

However, one wondered if Yuan Licen had spurned his chance, leading two games to one, he led 10-8 and 11-10 in the fourth but was unable to convert. Equally in the seventh game, it seemed he was in danger of losing the advantage. He led 7-5, but then lost the next three points, promptly he called “Time Out”, he levelled before at 10-9 holding match point and duly converting.

Tension, victory by the very narrowest of margins, for Zhang Binyue life was less exacting; she accounted for Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut in five games (11-7, 11-8, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5).

Overall, Zhang Binyue held the aces at the crucial time, she proved too consistent playing in a very safe manner; time and again the first attack was loaded with top spin; it put Jinnipa Sawettabut under pressure and into the passive role.

Success for Yuan Licen in an all Chinese final; it was the same for Li Yuqi and for Xiang Peng but in much more comfortable circumstances; straight games verdicts were the order the day.

Lin Yuqi beat Kuai Man (11-8, 12-10, 11-5), the crucial phase of the contest being the second game where at one stage Li Yuqi led 10-4, before taking a “Time Out” at 10-8 and eventually succeeding.

A nervous moment for Li Yuqi; there were no such travails for Xiang Peng, a forehand top spin at every possible opportunity and victory against Xiong Mengyang was secured (11-6, 11-4, 11-7).

Impressive from China; once again technical excellence shone.


Sunday 11th February

Cause for great hope

Throughout the whole of the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open in Muscat, the quality of play displayed by those competeing in the Hopes age group; basically players under 12 years old, has been an eye-opener.

It is not only the level of play that has been high; it is the manner in which they young players have extolled their skills.

There is too often a tendency amongst coaches and over anxious parents to encourage their young charges to play in a negative manner; rely on the opponent to make unforced errors; not in Muscat.

Perhaps the finals of the Hopes Boys’ Singles and Hopes Girls’ Singles events did not quite meet the level of the previous rounds, the staging of the matches and introductions to the crowd gave the occasion an air of importance. It produced a few nerves.

Nevertheless, all four players performed most creditably; India’s Suhana Saini secured the Hopes Girls’ Singles title beating Egypt’s Hana Goda in the final (10-12, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8), the win being prior to Iran’s Mohammad Amin Samadi overcoming Yemen’s Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran (11-9, 11-8, 11-8) to be crowned Hopes Boys’ Singles champion.

Remaining calm and focused was a major factor in the success gained by Suhana Sani; after losing the opening game, she did not panic and played with control, answering the speed of Hana Goda. Speed, playing at one hundred miles an hour is the forte of Hana Goda but perhaps that was her undoing; spin the first ball safely on the table and then take matters from that point, might have served her better.

Tense times, when tension mounted no-one responded better than Mohammad Amin Samadi.

In the third game he could see the winning post. He went ahead 7-5, Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran called “Time Out” and reduced the arrears to a one point deficit at 9-8; the narrow gap caused Mohammad Amin Samadi to elect for a break. Arguably it was the best decision of his young career, he won the next two points, the title was in Iranian hands.

Gold for Mohammad Amin Samadi and Suhana Saini, silver for Ebrahim Abdulhakim Gubran and Hana Goda but for me everyone in the Hopes competitions was a winner, an event to remember.

2018 ITTF World Junior Circuit – Oman

Thursday 8th February

China class apart

Tense moments en route the final but in the title deciding contests enacted in Muscat on the evening of Thursday 8th February at the 2018 Oman Junior and Cadet Open, the decisions were clear cut.

China proved imperious, a clean sweep of all four titles on offer and never in any shred of danger.

Xu Haidong, Yuan Licen and Quan Kaiyuan set the tone by recording a three matches to nil success in opposition to the combination of Egypt’s Marwan Abdelwahab and Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun; the one ray of home being in the opening contest when Marwan Abdelwahab extracted the second game from Xu Haidong.

However, there was to be no upset, Xu Haidong pressed the accelerator, to give China the ideal start (11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4). Yuan Licen, a young man with hand of gold and a quick-fire forehand accounted for Yanapong Panagitgun (11-8, 11-9, 11-4) before partnering Quan Kaiyuan to doubles success (11-9, 11-9, 11-8).

Similarly, in their concluding contest in the Junior Girls’ Team event, a competition organised on an all-play-all group basis, the trio formed by Guo Yuhan, Qian Tianyi and ap Binyue recorded a similarly impressive three-nil win in opposition to the partnership comprising the Czech Republic’s Martina Novakova and Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut.

Third place was the eventual lot of Martina Novakova and Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut; the previous evening they had experienced a three-two defeat against India’s Swastika Ghosh and Varuni Jaiswal, the eventual silver medallists.

Three matches to nil successes for China, it was the same in the finals of each of the Cadet Boys’ Team and Cadet Girls’ Team competitions.

In the former the combination of Xiang Peng and Xiong Mengyang overcame India’s Jash Amit Modi and Hrishikesh Malhotra; in the latter Li Yuqi, Kuai Man and Ma Xinyue accounted for the outfit comprising Egypt’s Farida Badawy and Malamentina Papadimitiou of Greece.

The team events concluded and did anyone notice?

The Chinese Junior Girls’ Team were not present for whatever reason at the presentation ceremony; the Cadet Girls’ Team substituted. Wonder if they will be able to keep the medals for both events?