2018 ITTF World Junior Circuit kicks off in Muscat from today

A file photo of an international TT event at the SQSC in Muscat

H H Sayyid Kamil bin Fahd al Said, Assistant Secretary General of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister for the Council of Ministers, will inaugurate the Oman Junior & Cadet Open Table Tennis Championship – the opening leg of the prestigious ITTF Premium Junior Circuit – at the Sultan Qaboos Sports Complex (SQSC) on Wednesday.

The tournament that will conclude on February 11 will witness 108 paddlers from 19 countries vying for titles in three main categories – cadet (U14), hopes (U12) and juniors (U17).

A total of 43 players are in cadet category while juniors have 36 in fray and hopes features 29 paddlers.

ITTF2

Qian Tianyi of China

The events to be held are junior boys and girls singles and junior boys and girls team, cadet boys and girls singles and team events along with boys and girls singles in hopes category.

The event's total prize-money is US$8,000 with the junior singles winner in both categories taking home US$900 while the runner-up will get US$500. All the semifinalists will also be awarded cash prizes.

With the 2017 champions of the World Junior Circuit (WJC) crowned in Luxembourg only last week, the 2018 WJC calendar commences in Muscat, a debut destination.

An impressive entry marks the first leg with the names of players present in Muscat having the potential and ability to succeed at the end of year finals.

Heavyweight China is present in force with eight boys and eight girls arriving to take part.

Yuan Licen and Xu Haidong are the names to attract the eye in boys event, while Kuia Man, Qian Tianyi and Zhang Binyue will be players to watch out in girls' section.

Tianyi is arguably the most celebrated of all as she has won the junior girls' singles event at each of the three most recent editions of the China Junior and Cadet Open.

At the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda, Italy, she was a member of the successful Chinese outfit in the girls’ team event and she also reached the singles semifinals.

In 2016, Xu Haidong was the junior boys’ singles runner-up at the China Junior and Cadet Open, a finish he also secured in 2017 in Hong Kong.

Later at the 2017 ITTF World Junior Championships he was a member of the gold medal-winning Chinese team and a boys’ singles quarterfinalist.

It is the first time that an event on such a big scale is being organised by the Oman Table Tennis Committee (OTTC).

Abdullah Bamkhalef, the OTTC chief, said, “We are proud to host an International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) event that features 19 countries and more than 100 paddlers.

“It is the biggest ever tournament in the young Oman table tennis history. To be awarded the first of the seven legs of the 2018 premium junior circuit is an endorsement of our efforts in promoting the game.”

Following the opening leg in Muscat, the next leg will be held in Hodonin, Czech Republic.

Ligano in Italy will host the third leg in March while Metz in France will be the next stop in April.

Wladyslawowo in Poland will be the fifth-leg stopover in May while the penultimate event will be played in Varazdin in Croatia in September. The final of the seven-leg circuit will conclude in Szombathely in Hungary in November.

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