WTT Feeder Otocec: Woojin and Hirano Finish on Top - Butterfly Table Tennis
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WTT Feeder Otocec: Woojin and Hirano Finish on Top

(by Steve Hopkins)

When Xiang Peng, a highly ranked 19 year old Chinese player, defeated China’s 17 year old phenom Lin Shidong, it looked like he might ride his momentum all the way to the title.  But the highest ranked player remaining, had a different idea.  Korea’s Jang Woojin dominated Benedek Olah 4-0 in the Semifinal and then held on for a 4-3 win in the Finals over Xiang Peng.  Before the Pandemic, Woojin was a player on the rise – actually landing inside the Top 10 across that Summer and ending the year in the Top 15.  His ranking was frozen through the Pandemic at 12, but since then he has slowly lost ground – currently at No. 37.  That said, he has not played many tournaments – so it will be interesting to see if he returns to his pre-Pandemic form later this year.  For Peng, he emerged from the Pandemic at about No. 115, and has steadily moved up the ladder to where he may be in the World Top 25 by the end of Summer.  *If he was playing for any country except China (and maybe Germany), he’d likely have a top three spot already secure – but in China, Xiang Peng is currently the seventh highest ranked player (and three of the players on his heels have played international events on the Chinese team and could accumulate ranking points quickly).  Both Peng and Woojin likely hope their performance this week in Slovenia was just one small step towards their big plans for 2022.

The surprise of the Women’s Singles event was China’s Qin Yuxuan, a fifteen year old, who took out World No. 20 Hana Matelova and Japan’s phenom Miwa Harimoto on her way to the Semifinals.  But Qin’s run ended with a 4-1 loss to Japan’s Miu Hirano.  Hirno went on to Defeate Haruna Ojio in the Final 4-1.

Jang Woojin teamed with Cho Daeseong to win Men’s Doubles.  Women’s Doubles went to Doo Hoi Kem and Zhu Chengzhu of Hong Kong.  And the Chinese team of 18 year old Kuai Man and 15 year old Lin Shidong won the Mixed Doubles event.

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