The two Oceania Hopes champions Yang Lun Zhao and Hui-Ling Vong made strong impacts on the under 13 events at the NZ Junior Open, having developed strongly after their experience at the ITTF Hopes Trial in Austria earlier in June.
|Yang Lun Zhao defends his Under 13 Boys|
Yang Lun (Jon Jon) was successful in winning the Under 13 boys singles and doubles. After his bronze medal performance in the under 18 boys singles he was looking in good form to make a strong contention. In the Under 13s he showed his class, leading to the final he won 3 matches all 3-0 with only 1 of the 9 sets scoring above 5 points, Nathan Xu having scored 6 in one of his lost sets. Kevin Lin had advanced to the final in a similar fashion, without dropping a set. Just a month ago Kevin Lin had imposed two victories over Jon Jon at the Auckland Junior Open and for a while it looked as if the result could repeat. The first two sets falling 11-4 and 11-5. Inconsistency was playing on the Waikato player but he soon turned the table on the Aucklander, Lin. Fighting hard in the open rallies and combining soft and hard shots with accurate placement it was Zhao that came back and took the match to the 5th set. With all the spectators bringing their focus in on the match it came crunching all the way down to 10-10. A big rally ensued and the Waikato player came out on top to a large round of applause. A service receive error ended the match and the early efforts of Kevin Lin fell short as Yang Lun Zhao won the Under 13 singles title from behind yet again in 2013.
|Zhiying Cheng wins the Under 13 Girls Singles|
The Under 13 girls singles was a face-off between Auckland's Zhiying Cheng and Wellington's Hui-Ling Vong. Hui-Ling had pushed Zhiying in the team event, 2-0 up but had lost in the 5th set. This battle swung wildly with Vong winning the first set 11-7 before Cheng stung back with an 11-2 win and then Vong came back yet again 11-4. Zhiying found her attacking pace and forced some opening errors on Vong's backhand and disrupted the rally rhythm, at this point she took a lead and was able to claim the next 2 sets to win the match and the title.
Jon Jon and Bay of Plenty's Xavier Lea combined to win the Under 13 Boys Doubles, a very well fought duel with Canterbury pair Alex Wilson and Alex Zhou who were somewhat robbed in the final moments. Despite a 2-1 lead to the northern pair the south did not yield. Their tactics proved superior and into the 5th set it was neck and neck. Granted a net saved the north from defeat and flustered their opposition, while soft blocking from Jon Jon forced Xavier Lea to retrieve some very difficult balls, a superb rally at 10-10 gave a match point back to the two and with some fortune it was a net which ended the match, much to the disappointment of the Canterbury pair who had fought so hard. Alas one of the unpredictable and uncontrollable aspects of the game and one which I'm sure these young players will grow to accept as such in the future.
Three Canterbury players graced the final of the Under 13 girls doubles. Emily Stewart paired with Oceania Hopes Champion Hui-Ling Vong while Fyfa Dawson paired with Jiayi Zhou. The two young Canterbury players worked hard with Jiayi chopping and going for some big forehands too but the more consistent and powerful style of Hui-Ling Vong provided the advantage to her side and in 3 sets her and Emily Stewart clenched the title.
Kevin Lin and Zhiying Cheng teamed up to win the Under 13 mixed final in straight sets over Nathan Xu and Iris Liu. Congratulations to all competitors and medallists!