China Sweeps Gold at 2017 ITTF World Junior ChampionshipsPhoto: ITTF
2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships
China has reinstated its supremacy at the 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships, sweeping all seven titles (Boys' Singles, Girls' Singles, Boys' Doubles, Girls' Doubles, Mixed Doubles, Boys' Team and Girls' Team) available, after winning only the Girls' Singles title at the last edition of the event in 2016.
Top seed in the Boys' Singles, XUE Fei was the star player of the team in Riva del Garda, Italy, winning four titles for the Chinese team - Boys' Singles, Doubles, Team, as well as the Mixed Doubles crown.
XUE had to face off surprise finalist Truls MOREGARD (SWE) who fought his way from the qualification stage, eliminating XUE's teammates XU Haidong (CHN) and NIU Guankai (CHN) en route to the final.
The fearless MOREGARD challenged the top seed in the final hurdle to Gold, but the far more experienced XUE proved too strong for the 15-year-old Swedish, dominating the match 4-1 (11-9, 12-10, 11-4, 9-11, 11-8) to seal the victory.
"I'm very happy to claim this title. I lost the final in 2015, so this is a form of affirmation. Especially also because we lost the title last year, so I was also determined to win the title back for the team," stated XUE after securing the title to end his trip to Italy.
Ranked number 9 on the senior's World Ranking, SUN Yingsha (CHN) was unstoppable in the Girls' Singles Final against two-time World Junior Champion WANG Manyu (CHN). The dynamic duo treated the local crowd to a world class table tennis thriller with fast and furious rallies. It was the 16-year-old SUN who prevailed to take the match 14-12 in the decider to win the close encounter 4-3 (6-11, 11-8, 11-8, 12-14, 8-11, 11-6, 14-12).
"This is my first World Junior Championships, and she has won twice already, so I came into the final with the mindset to challenge her," shared SUN. "We both played our best level today, we know each other very well and actually I wasn't confident in the seventh game because she's such a tough opponent to beat. She's always able to withstand the pressure to come back, and this is something that I'm still lacking in. But when I was 11-12 down in the decider, I was still determined to fight back and win this title."
SUN and WANG faced each other again in an all-Chinese Girls' Doubles final, with SUN partnering with SHI Xunyao to recover from 2-3 games down to beat WANG and QIAN Tianyi 4-3 (7-11, 14-12, 11-4, 8-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9) to claim their first World Junior Championships title together.
Despite losing the first game 12-14 to the Korean duo of BAEK Hogyun and AN Jaehyun, the Chinese pairing of XUE and WANG Chuqin were quick to bounce back, taking the next four games to win 4-1 (10-12, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5, 11-5) in the Boys' Doubles Final.
XUE joined forces with WANG Manyu to defeat Korean pair KIM Jiho and AN Jaehyun 4-1 (11-8, 11-5, 14-12, 8-11, 11-8) in the Mixed Doubles Final to add on to China's title haul in Riva del Garda, Italy.
Earlier on 29 November 2017, China has already claimed both the Girls' and Boys' Team titles.
With the conclusion of the 2017 World Junior Table Tennis Championships, all eyes now turn to the US$1,000,000 Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be held in Astana, Kazakhstan from 14 – 17 December 2017.