The 52 ;nd European Youth Championships is set to start in Prague, Czech Republic on Friday 10 July. Action will continue for nine days straight before the Europeans have crowned all their champions. As much as the titles are worth, there are also other threshold to meet for associations seeking entries for two major ITTF events this fall.
The ITTF Cadet Challenge , this year organised in Tokyo , JPN 19-25 October , is the first of many opportunities to qualify for the upcoming 2010 Youth Olympic Game in Singapore . New for this year and in line with the YOG concept that will see only one boy and girls competing, is that the singles event in Tokyo also will allow one entry per national associations . In practical terms this means that the ETTU Team Europe, and all the other continents as well for that matter , will have to field teams with athletes from different countries. No more double jammies (two players from the same association in the team) and added headache for the selection committee in Europe , who might have to think twice before announcing their team.
Top canidates to make the European Girls team for the second year in a row should be the fiery Romanian Bernadette Szocs and Sofia Polcanova from Moldavia . Both did well in last years ITTF CC and will for sure be competitive here. No question however that the German left-hander Petrissa Solja is the best European Cadet Girl. Solja is looking to defend her title from last year and are normally steady as a rock under pressure.
Cadet Boys and some Promising Individuals
Personally I am a big fan of the young Frenchmen Simon Gauzy . Finally a young European with the complete package ! He has not only the playing skills but more importantly the temper as well – at least so far in his carrier. I also like the fact that the French Association did opt for some tough senior competitions over in Asia this year instead of hammering him with endless European Junior events. The only thing that could work against is expectations in both teams and singles… Not an easy thing to handle for any 15 year old.. The hard wired fighter Hampus Söderlund from Sweden also stands out . Hampus has all the will and energy in the world, plus a for his age very powerful forehand game. A true yellow and blue fighter he is , but must control his emotions and get his legs moving in order to have success. Wonder also a bit about the overall planning from the Swedes who hasn’t been overly active on the international scene with their players this year… Could backfire big time – that’s for sure.
Junior Team – Qualifier for the ITTF WJTTC
Top four teams in the Junior team events will automatically qualify for the World Junior Championships in Colombia scheduled for 9-16 December. The Girls team event seems to be more open that ever before. Not fewer than eight countries have players ranked in the top ten on the ETTU individual junior ranking list .
Looking at the boys competition a couple of good country combos of players should be able to do the work. Tomas Le Breton and Victor Le Guen from France , Mattias Karlsson and Kristian Karlsson from Sweden and the much improved Patrick Franziska paired up with Philipp Floritz from Germany should be able to bring their respective national teams closer to Colombia. However you can never be sure when it comes to the European Youth Championships. The playing system for the junior team events will as always create unexpected twists and turns, driving most of the coaches to the brink of table tennis insanity..
Speaking about predictions. I had a long chat with the Danish head coach and Sport Director Peter Sartz about the European Youth the other day. He felt as i do, that the young German Patrick Franziska is starting to separate himself from the rest of the players in Europe. A crafty , smart player that sees the play develop and reacts with smart placement and tactical sense.
“But you also have Daniel Kosiba from Hungary Peter reminded ” I think that Kosiba is showing a fairly high, pretty developed skill set at times. Feels like he is able to play at a higher level than some of the other , especially when he gets going he said “.
“As for the Danish team. Well i am satisfied with the development of Jonathan Groth for the moment. He is clearly our best prospect for and might be ready to cause a major upset or two in the singles said Peter Sartz “
Also looking forward to take closer look at Pavel Sirucek . It is about time that we have a Czech player in the mix again. Always respect the Czechs – especially when they are playing at home !
That’s all for now…Stay tuned for more when we hit the ground in Prague Saturday morning !