Oman Junior & Cadet Open ITTF Premium Jr Circuit: Chinese paddlers dominate

Ahmed al Riyami, Maadh al Shahi and Mohammed al Mutawa made it to the main round of their respective categories at the Oman Junior & Cadet Open – ITTF Premium Junior Circuit, currently underway at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex.

Ten year old Ahmed caught the eye of the local fans on Friday. Competing in the hopes (U12) boys' event, Ahmed impressed as he prevailed over Qatar’s Yousof Aly in a full distance five games contest (11-8, 11-13, 11-7, 11-13, 11-6).

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Oman’s Ahmed al Riyami celebrates his win in a qualifying match of hopes category

Having won the first three games, Ahmed stumbled in the fourth game as he led 10-8 only to lose 11-13. With inputs from his coach Asad al Raisi, and the local crowd cheering him, Ahmed lifted the game to win the next 11-6.

“The spectators motivated me; at 10-8 in the fourth game I was so tense, so nervous. In the fifth game my coach told me to serve short; I’m so happy now,” said Ahmed, who now meets Scotland's Chen Borui for a place in the quarterfinals.

Ahmed's coach Raisi said, “I told him to use a backspin service in the fifth game and follow with a top spin but he didn’t, he was so tense. The main thing is that he fought, he was good mentally, I really think that in the years to come he can be one of the very best players in the Arab region.”

Also advancing to the main group stage of hopes category is Mohammed al Mutawa, who faces strong Qatari player Sultan al Kuwari for a place in last-eight.

Meanwhile, in the cadet (U14) category, Maadh al Shahi was the only local player left in the fray. Maadh moved into the round of 32 and will meet Chen Borui for a place in pre-quarterfinals.

His teammates, Al Mondhir al Ghassani, Ayman al Shahi, Omar al Ghassani and Mohammed al Mutawa, who also took part in cadet event, made a tame exit in the preliminary rounds.

Also in the junior (U17) group, Oman's challenge ended early with defeats of Mohammed al Balushi, Abdallah al Balushi and Mashal al Shahi.

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Chinese paddlers (centre) on podium after winning the junior team title

Chinese sweep team titles

Earlier in the team events, China proved imperious, a clean sweep of all four titles – cadet boys and girls and junior boys and girls - on offer and its players never in any shred of danger.

Xu Haidong, Yuan Licen and Quan Kaiyuan set the tone in junior boys’ by recording a 3-0 success in opposition to the combination of Egypt’s Marwan Abdelwahab and Thailand’s Yanapong Panagitgun; the one ray of home being in the opening contest when Marwan Abdelwahab extracted the second game from Haidong.

However, there was to be no upset, Haidong pressed the accelerator, to give China the ideal start (11-7, 9-11, 11-4, 11-4). Yuan Licen, a young man with a quickfire forehand accounted for Yanapong Panagitgun (11-8, 11-9, 11-4) before partnering Quan Kaiyuan to doubles success (11-9, 11-9, 11-8).

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The top-three finishers in the junior girls’ category

Similarly, in their concluding contest in the junior girls’ team event, a competition organised on an all-play-all group basis, the trio formed by Guo Yuhan, Qian Tianyi and Zhang Binyue recorded a similarly impressive 3-0 win in opposition to the partnership comprising the Czech Republic’s Martina

Novakova and Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut. Third place was the eventual lot of Martina Novakova and Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut; the previous evening they went down 2-3 against India’s Swastika Ghosh and Varuni Jaiswal, the eventual silver medallists.

Another 3-0 successes for China in the finals of each of the cadet boys’ team and cadet girls’ team competitions. In the boys, the combination of Xiang Peng and Xiong Mengyang overcame India’s Jash Amit Modi and Hrishikesh Malhotra; and in the girls, Li Yuqi, Kuai Man and Ma Xinyue accounted for Egypt’s Farida Badawy and Malamentina Papadimitiou of Greece.

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