China subdued France 3-1 and Germany 3-1 in the boys’ and girls’ semifinals respectively of the Volkswagen World Junior Table Tennis Championship at the SAAP indoor stadium on Tuesday.
In the other two last four face-offs, Japan’s boys and girls beat South Korea 3-1 and Hong Kong 3-2 respectively for an assault on the team titles.
If Simon Gauzy was the best France had to offer, there was little he could do against Fan Zhendong. The French lad, ranked fifth in the world, showing flair with some eye-catching smashes, played his cards right until Zhendong caught up close to the finish of game one.
Fan, one peg below in the pecking order at sixth, then turned things his way in a sign of things to come. There was no looking back thereafter for Zhendong, who claimed the contest in clinical fashion.
Down 0-2, the French resistance came in the form of Enzo Angles, refusing to let anything go without a fight. Facing World No.18 Fan Shengpeng, Angles, listed eight places below, showed no trace of fear or awe. After the duo had won two games each, Enzo flubbed a few returns but let his flowing forehand loop drive fall like a sledge hammer, which not only forced the pace but in the end the verdict too.
On the distaff side, Petrissa Solja of Germany seemed prone to error when flipping the ball over for her back hand drives against China’s Gu Yuting. The battle between the left-handers was nonetheless fast, four to five exchanges at the most often settling the point. Solja however stayed ahead through the contest and presently put the issue beyond doubt at 3-1.
Aiming too deep perhaps, Theresa Kraft’s forehand loop drives went beyond bounds time and again giving Zhu Yu Ling a fair measure of comfort in winning the first two games at 4 and 2. Game three appeared to be fought more keenly, with Kraft getting as far as 6.
Variety in service gave Anja Schuh the early edge against Gu Ruochen. One down the line effort caught the Chinese lass completely out of place. Such flaws were soon to be ironed out and Gu breezed to 11-6 in the opening game.
Largely through diagonal and cross court returns, the German regained control in game two, claiming it 11-7.
Members of the German squad seated behind, quite demonstrative with their support, rose from their chairs each time Schuh scored a point, lustily cheering and applauding her, in contrast to the sober and subdued Chinese camp.
Anja put her best foot forward perhaps in the decider but couldn’t muster enough momentum to dislodge her rival.
After China went up 2-1, the Germans fielded their top gun Petrissa Solja, this time pitted against Zhu Yu Ling. The huge chasm separating China from the rest of the world was in evidence as Petrissa gave it her all, which sadly wasn’t enough as Zhu walked away with the honours in straight games, hardly stretched by her opponent.
The results: Junior Boys: Semifinals: China bt France 3-1 (Zhendong Fan bt Simon Gauzy 11-9, 11-5, 11-2, Gaoyuan Lin bt Tristan 11-9, 11-8, 11-9, Shenpeng Fan lost to Enzo Angles 11-9, 8-11, 11-8, 10-12, 12-14, Zhendong Fan bt Tristan Flore 11-9, 11-9, 11-3).
Japan bt South Korea 3-1 (Masaki Hoshida bt Deokhwa Choi 11-7, 11-3, 11-3, Yuto Muramatsu bt Woojin Jang 13-11, 11-4, 5-=11, 4-11, 13-11, Asuka Sakai lost to Minhyeok Kim 11-9, 9-11, 5-11, 5-11, Yuto Muramatsu bt Deokhwa Choi 10-12, 11-9, 13-11, 11-6).
Quarterfinals: South Korea bt Hong Kong 3-0. France bt Poland 3-0. China bt Germany 3-0. Japan bt Chinese Taipei 3-2.
Positions: 9-12: Czech Republic bt Belgium 3-2, Brazil bt Hungary 3-1.
Positions: 13-16: Argentina bt Italy 3-0, Egypt bt India 3-1 (Shady Magdy lost to Abhishek Yadav 11-7, 8-11, 10-12, 7-11, Omar Bedair bt Sudhanshu 4-11, 12-10, 11-9, 11-13, 11-7, Abdel-Rahman Mohamed bt Utkarsh Gupta 11-7, 6-11, 11-5, 11-8, Omar Bedair bt Abhishek Yadav 11-9, 6-11, 12-14, 11-9, 13-11).
Junior Girls: Semifinals: China bt Germany 3-1 (Yuting Gu lost to Petrisa Solja 12-10, 7-11, 7-11, 9-11, Yuling Zhu bt Theresa Kraft 11-4,11-2, 11-6, Ruochen Gu bt Anja Schuh 11-6, 8-11, 14-12, 11-8, Yuling Zhu bt Petrissa Solja 11-6, 11-7, 11-5).
Japan bt Hong Kong 3-2 (Miyu Maeda lost to Hoi Kem Doo 6-11, 8-11, 15-13, 9-11, Ayuka Tanioka bt Ching Wan Li 11-8, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, Mima Ito bt Yee Lok Lam 11-7, 11-3, 11-7, Ayuka Tanioka lost to Hoi Kem Doo 11-5, 11-6, 5-11, 4-11, 10-12, Miyu Maeda bt Ching Wan Li 11-4, 11-6, 11-8);
Quarterfinals: China bt South Korea 3-0. Japan bt Romania 3-0. Hong Kong bt Croatia 3-1. Germany bt USA 3-2.
Positions: 9-12: Chinese Taipei bt India 3-0 (Hsin Huang bt Manika Batra 11-8, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, Yu-Wen Huang bt T. Reeth Rishya 11-7, 11-3, 11-8, Ya-Ting Hsu bt Karnam Spoorthy 7-11, 11-7, 12-10, 12-10).
Russia bt Netherlands 3-1, Chinese Taipei bt Russia 3-0. India bt Netherlands (Karnam Spoorthy bt Rianne van Duin 11-2, 11-8, 11-5, Manika Batra bt Alice Barendregt 11-5, 11-3, 11-3, Suthirtha Mukherjee bt Kim Vermaas 11-4, 6-11, 11-7, 11-7).