2018 World Junior Table Tennis Championships Recap
(by Steve Hopkins/Photo by ITTF)
The World Junior Table Tennis Championships were held this week in Bendigo, Australia. There were seven events including Boys Teams, Girls Teams, Boys Singles, Girls Singles, Boys Doubles, Girls Doubles, and Mixed Doubles. The Junior Boys’ Teams were seeded based upon World Ranking with China, Japan, and Taipei as the top three teams (Team USA was seeded eighth). The Junior Girls’ Teams were seeded similarly with Japan, China, and Taipei as seeds one through three (and Team USA was seeded eighth and Team Canada was seeded sixteenth). USA’s Kanak Jha was the top individual seed on the boy’s side while the top American female was Amy Wang at No. 10.
The headline of ITTF’s article on the tournament is “China Steals the Show in Bendigo”. With Chinese wins in all seven events, the ITTF’s title is clearly correct. However, there is also plenty to report for Team USA who finished in the Top Eight in both of the team events and who had singles players in the Top 16 in both the Girls and Boys events.
JUNIOR BOYS TEAMS
USA was represented by Kanak Jha, Nikhil Kumar and Sharon Alguetti. Team USA had 3-0 wins over Singapore and Australia to advance to the knock out rounds. Their first elimination match was the Quarterfinals against China where they fell 3-1. Kanak gave USA the initial lead with a 3-2 win over Haidong Xu. Haidong was the third seed in the tournament and China’s top ranked representative. Unfortunately, the Chinese ran off three wins in a row with Xu Yingbin defeating Nikhil Kumar 3-0, Xiang Peng defeating Sharon Alguetti 3-0, and Xu Yingbin upsetting Kanak Jha in a very close 3-1 match (-9, 5, 9, 9). China went on to defeat France and Japan to win the tournament, winning both by a 3-0 score making the one victory Kanak scored the only loss Team China suffered in the event.
JUNIOR GIRLS TEAMS
USA was represented by Rachel Yang, Crystal Wang, and Amy Wang. They advanced to the Quarterfinals by defeating France (3-2) and Canada (3-0) in the group stage. USA then faced China in their first knock-out match and lost 3-1. Amy Wang scored the only win for USA with her defeat of Huang Fanzhen 3-2.
China went on to defeat Korea 3-0 and Japan 3-1 to win the event. The win over Japan was a minor upset as Japan was the top seed and China was the second seed. In the final, China jumped out to a quick lead by winning the first two matches. Japan then won a tight third match (Miyuu over Huang 3-2) before China put the match away with a 3-0 win in the fourth and final match.
Kanak Jha logged a dominant performance in his opening match – defeating Russia’s Maksim Grebnev 4-0. In the Round of 16, Jha faced Yu Heyl of China. Jha won the first game 11-6, and then lost four straight. Two of the losses were 11-9 nail-biters, but the result is the same. Yu over Jha 4-1: -6, 9, 7, 2, 9. USA’s Kumar and Alguetti and Canada’s Hazin each fell in their Round of 32 matches.
Yu Heyl lost in the quarterfinals to Romania’s Cristian Pletea 4-0. Pletea then lost in the Semifinals to China’s Xu Haidong 4-0. Xu won the final 4-1 over Japan’s Yukiya Uda.
USA’s Amy Wang defeated Korea’s Yubin Shin 4-2 to advance to the Round of 16. Wang then fell to China’s Guo Yuhan 4-0. Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz defeated Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze 4-2 before falling to Japan’s Yumeno Soma 4-1. USA other singles entry, Rachel Yang, fell to Japan’s Miyuu Kihara 4-0 in the Round of 32.
The top two seeds, both Chinese, advanced to the Final. In the Final, Qian Tianyi got the best of teammate Shi Xunyao 4-3.
Kanak Jha and Sharon Alguetti won their first Boys’ Doubles match over Taipei 3-1 before falling in a close match to Russia 3-2 (RUS over USA 3-2: -6, 12-11, -5, 7). The Russian team went on to advance all the way to the finals of Boy’s Doubles before losing to the Chinese team 3-0. Amy Wang and Crystal Wang defeated France (3-0) and Romania (3-2) before falling in the quarterfinals of Girls’ Doubles to the Chinese team of Guo and Qian 3-1. Nicholas Tio and Rachel Sung brought Team USA into the Round of 32 before falling to the Chinese team of Xiang and Huang 3-0.
In the end, there were no major upset wins and no major losses for the North American participants. Perhaps the best result of note is that Team USA managed to reach the Top 8 in both the Boys and Girls team events. If the solid performances across the board can continue as our juniors join the adult ranks, Team USA should begin to see better seedings and more trips to the medal rounds in international competition. These types of competitions are designed to help build for the future – these results show a solid foundation for Team USA.