The World Junior Table Tennis Championships (WJJTC) event started in 2003, gathering fornthe first time the best under 18 players from all over the world. The tournament is one-week long and separate in two different legs. Firstly, the Team Event shows a battle of national Girls’ and Boys’ Teams. At the end of this first competition, the Individual Events begin, including Girls’ and Boys’ singles, doubles and the mixed double.
All in all, WJTTC awards seven different titles. While both Team and Individual Events are played at the same place and period by the juniors, it is not the same by the senior where these two events occur every two years. The Team Event is coming round in the even-years, the Individual one is in the odd-years, like it was this year in Düsseldorf (Germany).
Riva del Garda (Italy) is the host of the 15th World Junior Table Tennis Championships (WJTTC). It is the first time that Italy organizes this event. Furthermore, since the first edition in 2003 in Santiago (Chile), the event never took place twice in the same country, as ITTF’s priority is to make know table tennis all around the world. Obviously, this is easier to do with a junior event. But is it for all that a minor event without interest? Of course not!
Many table tennis superstars came up from this event over the years. Taking the fourteen Boys’ Single winners, we find four of them who reached the senior Top10 once in their life and nine in the Top20. By the girls, we discover five of twelve who reached the senior Top10 and seven the Top20, really Impressive.
The two current men’s leading at the World Ranking (Ma Long and Fan Zhendong), both won the junior title. By the women, the three current first seeded (Ding Ning, Zhu Yuling & Chen Meng) did it. Indeed, the WJTTC is an incredible milestone on the way to professional table tennis at the highest level.
Like for the Senior Championships, even the junior event is showing an unbelievable Chinese supremacy. In the last fourteen years, China obtained 79 out of 98 gold medals. The Junior Girls’ Single title has always been won by a Chinese players, the same about Junior Girls’ Double until last year, when Romanian girl’s Diaconu and Dragoman provoked a big upset. AFterwards, the Chinese team was very disappointed byhe overall outcome of the event in Capetown, while Japan was triumphant.
The young Japanese superstar who will compete in Riva del Garda. Tomokazu Harimoto won the Junior Boys’ Single title last year and helped his national team to win the Team Event too. Just 14, he already achieved a place in the Top15 by the senior Ranking in September 2017 (13thposition) by having grateful results in different international seniors tournaments. After a first lose in the final of the India Open against the powerful German Dimitrij Ovtcharov (0-4), he won the Czech Open against another great and experienced German player, Timo Boll. However, Boll was leading the final two sets to one by winning a crazy point at 10-8 in the third set. But Harimoto showed an amazing mental strength to win finally by 4-2. These two outstanding Germans players (4th & 5th in the World Ranking), have just met each other last week in the World Cup final in Liege (Belgium)!
To make a long story short, the WJTTC will bring in Riva del Garda the excellence of table tennis in the next years. Some of these boys and girls, one for sure, are already worldwide superstars.