Day two in Mississauga, Toronto and Canada – on the road to Nanjing. Final stages of the Road to Nanjing 2014 open event with a decent group of internationals looking to secure a spot in the YOG. It is crunch time in that regards with the main draw set up to finish this evening local time.
Following the morning session at the My Table Tennis club with four quarterfinals played in straight order, we now have a final four set up in both categories. Even if the overall quality from a top junior in the world perspective is not absolutely of highest caliber, the excitement and anticipation of success or failure rules is what makes the RTN series extra interesting. A bunch of unproven, nervous players combined with the winner takes all formula is of course the perfect recipe for entertainment in Table Tennis.
This morning I had a relaxed breakfast chat with the Swedish coach Tomas Von Scheele. “It’s clearly an interesting concept and a good learning tool Thomas said. People looking at this from then outside are having difficulties to understand the pressure and the anxiety involved in a qualification style of competition. I believe that the players themselves have a failure first attitude coming into these events that may not serve them that well from a pure performance point of view. Most of the guys consider not qualifying as a huge disappointment and that is what is setting the mental agenda kind of thing said the Swedish coach.
Speaking of the Swedes. I am pretty sure that they had the taxi parked outside the venue to go to the Pearson Airport this morning when Carl Ahlander Johansson in his third attempt to qualify was down 0-3 against Aliaksandr Khanin from Belarus. Relief came in the shape of a good start in the fourth game and the match then turned completely for Johansson who just might be able to build momentum enough from this comeback to win the whole thing. Johansson is now up against Martin Allegro from Belgium in his semi-final whilst Claus Nielsen from Denmark battles Andreas Levenko from Austria in the top half of the draw.
In the junior girls’ category, from then look of it, Lisa Lung from Belgium is the favorite. She most certainly looked sharp and focused on winning yesterday when she breezed through the group stage without dropping one single game.