(by Ian Marshall/Photo: Rémy Gros)
Two wins in vain and victory,differing fortunes for North America
First place in the group and thus a passport to the second stage; that was the lot of the top four outfits on duty in the Boys’ Team event at the Sun International 2016 World Junior Championships, when play closed on the opening day of action, Wednesday 30th November, in the South African city of Cape Town.
It was a comfortable conclusion to the day for the Czech Republic, the no.9 seeds, as it was for Belgium the next in the order of merit.
However for Italy, the no.11 seeds and the United States, the outfit which occupied the no.12 seeded spot, it was a very different affair. Both succeeded but both were stretched the full five match distance.
Represented by Tomas Polansky, Patrik Klos and Jiri Martinko; the Czech Republic overcame the Brazilian outfit of Gustavo Kodama, Carlos Ishida and Rodrigo Yonesake by three matches to nil.
It was the same result for Belgium’s Florian Cnudde, Laurens Devos and Thibaut Darcis when facing Egypt’s Karim Elhakem, Youssef Abdel-Aziz and Mahmoud Helmy.
“Egypt was a bit tough for us but we prepared very well for this competition and this reflected in our performance as a team”, Thibaut Darcis (Belgium)
The two remaining contests; those between Italy and Canada, the United States in opposition to Argentina proved much more testing affairs, with Jeremy Hazin and Kanak Jha emerging the shining lights for North America.
Alas for Jeremy Hazin, his efforts were not to prove sufficient for Canada to secure victory; he beat both Daniele Pinto (11-6, 7-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-3) and Matteo Mutti (11-9, 12-10, 12-10) but he was to emerge his team’s only winner.
Moxi Guo was beaten by both Matteo Mutti (11-8, 11-7, 11-6) and crucially in the fifth and deciding match of the fixture when facing Daniele Pinto (11-8, 11-5, 12-10); the one remaining success for the Italians accrued in the third match of the engagement when Luca Bressan accounted for Alexander Bu (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-8).
Two wins in vain, for Kanak Jha it was two wins in victory; against Argentina he overcame Francisco Sanchi (11-6, 11-3, 14-12) and Horacio Cifuentes (11-5, 11-4, 10-12, 11-9) to prove the mainstay of the United States win.
Under pressure, the one further success for the flag of the Stars and Stripes was recorded by Victor Liu. He became the hero of the hour; in the vital deciding match of the engagement, he defeated Francisco Sanchi (11-8, 11-9, 8-11, 11-6). For Argentina the wins were recorded by Horacio Cifuentes against Victor Liu in the second match of the fixture (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 12-14, 11-4) and by Martin Bentancor in the third contest of the engagement, when he overcame Jack Wang (11-8, 6-11, 11-7, 13-11).
In the second stage of the Boys’ Team event, the Czech Republic is drawn in the same group as Japan and Romania; Italy lines up alongside China and Chinese Taipei.
Meanwhile, the United States is in the same group as Korea Republic and DPR Korea; Belgium faces France and Hong Kong.
Play in the second stage commences on Thursday 1st December; teams finishing in first and second positions in each group advance to the quarter-finals.