World Junior TT: Li and Wai bag honours

In a thrilling seven-setter, Li overcame compatriot Chi-Chien Lai 11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 while Wai Soo subdued Yuko Kato of Japan 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4 in the girls' final.

Wai Yam Minnie Soo, who won the girls' title.

Li Hsin Yang of Chinese Taipei and Wai Yam Minnie Soo of Hong Kong clinched the boys' and girls' crowns respectively of the International Table Tennis Federation World Junior Circuit Finals which concluded at the Abhay Prashal indoor stadium here on Saturday evening.

In a thrilling seven-setter, Li overcame compatriot Chi-Chien Lai 11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8 while Wai Soo subdued Yuko Kato of Japan 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4 in the girls' final.

Their games were almost on a par, Lai’s height perhaps giving him an edge. Rallies from close to the backboards underscored a fiercely attacking forehand contest. In mid-table sparring, Li, at times, erred with the counter-spin. The diminutive Li was driven further from the table in the exchanges and dropped a few points, given the distance.

Especially in the second and the third games, Lai had Li on the run, the latter mostly at the receiving end of smashes he couldn’t quite intercept. Li showed a freewheeling kind of aggression, plagued by more mistakes, while Lai’s was controlled, the latter’s smash invariably fetching a winner. So was Lai more in command when switching the line of play, catching his rival out of place quite often.

Li was irrepressible though, one delicate dab leaving his opponent nowhere near the scene. The scrawny lad showed greater gumption. Losing three games on the trot didn’t deter Li, who showed he wasn’t finished yet by clinching the fifth 11-6. Poised on the precipice, Li plucked the sixth 13-11 from the very jaws of defeat.

In the decider, Li pinned Lai to the back, pounding the latter with smash after smash. Lai replied in kind with his back to the wall but by then the battle had drifted beyond his reach.

In the girls' final, both players positioned themselves at the extreme backhand ends, leaving the table open predominantly for forehand play. In the first two games Yuko’s backhand flicks when receiving, went wayward. Wai capitalised on that frailty and went up without really breaking a sweat. Thereon the top seed dictated the terms and cruised to victory.

The results:

Boys: Final: Hsin Yang Li bt Chi- Chen Lai (both Taipei) 11-7, 9-11, 2-11, 10-12, 11-6, 13-11, 11-8. Semi-finals: Li bt Koyo Kanamitsu (Jap) 12-10, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-8; Lai bt Alexandru Manole (Rom) 16-14, 8-11, 11-13, 11-4, 12-10, 11-7.

Girls: Final: Wai Yam Minnie Soo (HK) bt Yuko Kato (Jap) 11-8, 11-8, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4. Semi-finals: Kato bt Sih Han Fang (Tai) 5-11, 11-6, 11-4, 5-11, 11-5, 11-9; Soo bt Andreea Dragoman (Rom) 11-7, 13-11, 13-11, 13-11.