(By Steve Hopkins)
2018 World Team Championships Preview
We are now 10 days away from the kickoff of the Liebherr 2018 World Team Table Tennis Championships. The Championships will be held from Sunday April 29 to Sunday May 6 in Halmstad, Sweden. The Men’s event is known as the Swaythling Cup and has been held since 1926 (now held every other year). The Cup is named for Lady Baroness Swaything, most of the first ITTF President, Ivor Montagu. The Women’s event is known as the Corbillon Cup – named for Marcel Corbillon, President of the French Table Tennis Association in the 1930s. The official ball this year is the Butterfly A40+.
There are three divisions in the Men’s event with the top seeds in the Championship Division being No.1 Germany, No.2 China, No.3 Japan, and No.4 France. The German Team includes World No. 2 Timo Boll and World No. 3 Dimitrij Ovtcharov and is rounded out by Filus, Franziska and Steger. The Chinese team includes World No.1 Fan Zhendong, Lin Gaoyuan, Ma Long, Xu Xin, and seventeen year old Wang Chuqin. The Japanese team includes Niwa, Mizutani, Matsudaira, Oshima and their fourteen year old sensation Tomokazu Harimoto. There are 24 teams in the Championship Division – France, Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Portugal, Sweden, and Brazil round out the top 10 seeds. Of all the players on the 24 Championship Division teams, only two players (China’s Xu Xin and Hong Kongs Won Chun Ting) are penhold, and only one player (Germany’s Ruwen Filus) is a defender.
Team USA Men are the 14th seed in the Second Division. The team features three juniors Kanak Jha, Nikhil Kumar, Nicholas Tio and is anchored by 21 year old Yijun Feng. Both Puerto Rico and Canada are also in the Second Division. Team Puerto Rico includes Brian Afanador, Sebastian Echevarria, Daniel Gonzalez, and Ricardo Jimenez. team Cnaada includesAntoine Bernadet, Bryan Ho, Edward Ly, Marko Medjugorac, and Terence Yeung.
The Top four seeds in the Women’s event are China, Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong. Team USA Women are the 23rd seed in the Championship Division. Amy Wang, Xinyue Wang, Yue Wu, and Lily Zhang comprise TeamUSA. Canada and Puerto Rico are both in the Second Division. Team Canada features Alicia Cote, Laura Lai, Joyce Xu, Justina Yeung, and Mo Zhang. The Puerto Rican Team includes Adriana Diaz, Melanie Diaz, and Daniely Rios.