Zhang Jike, a former ITTF Junior Circuit winner
Photo By: An Sung Ho
2012 Guatemala Junior & Cadet Open - ITTF Junior Circuit
On Sunday 28th September 2003, Zhang Jike won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the New Zealand Junior and Cadet Open in Wellington; he beat Ma Long in the semi-final and Li Hu in the final.
Just under nine years later, Zhang Jike and Ma Long departed the London 2012 Olympic Games with gold medals around their necks.
Now, which players, who are currently competing on the ITTF Junior Circuit, can emulate Zhang Jike and Ma Long?
They secured the greatest of accolades but simply being present in London, competing in the ExCeL Arena was an accolade in itself.
Who will we see in Olympic Games of 2016, 2020 or 2024 who are currently competing on the ITTF Junior Circuit?
Are they to be found at the Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open?
A total of no less than 17 countries are represented at the Guatemala Junior and Cadet Open, the latest stop on the ITTF Junior Circuit; proceedings commencing on Thursday 9th August and concluding three days later on Sunday 13th August 2012.
Furthermore, five of the continents affiliated to the International Table Tennis Federation are represented.
In addition to Latin America; players from North America, Europe, Asia and as far afield as Oceania are on duty.
Understandably, Central America is well represented with the host nation welcoming players from nearby El Salvador, Honduras and Mexico. Also there are competitors from the Caribbean, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico plus Trinidad and Tobago.
Not to be left out, the South American countries of Ecuador, Uruguay and Venezuela have also sent players to complete the Latin American contingent.
Meanwhile from farther afield, Europe is represented in the guise of Sweden, from Asia, both Chinese Taipei and India are on duty; whilst North America is represented by the United States and from Oceania cometh New Zealand.
A time to learn, players and coaches listen to the words of Massimo Costantini
Photo by Debbie Pham
Prior to the start of the tournament a Training Camp was staged with Italy’s Massimo Costantini, currently the Head Coach at the highly successful India Community Training Centre in the United States being the head coach.
“The atmosphere was good, there are over 30 players at the Training Camp prior the World Junior Circuit coming from the United States, Trinidad and Tobago, New Zealand, Ecuador and obviously from Guatemala”, said Massimo Costantini. “Thanks to the collaboration of the Guatemala National Association I had with me assistant coaches who were continually eager to know more about table tennis, in fact during the break I took the opportunity to continue to teach table tennis and to fulfill their requests.”
The assistant coaches were: Mario Juárez, Mario Galvez, Adalberto Ruiz, Diego Espinosa and José Hernández.
“I based the work on three important area: control, footwork and game situation; everything mixed like a cocktail, just needing the right amount of ingredients”, continued Massimo Costantini “I organised separate the drills for boys and for girls, it was a lot of work but you get used to it.”
True to the character of Massimo Costantini, one of the most deep thinking coaches, it was a well designed and thorough programme.
One of the Training Sessions taking place in splendid facilities
Photo by Debbie Pham
“I hope that every player is happy with the work we did and returns home with good things to remember”, added Massimo Costantini, “If there is anything they don’t understand.”
Now at the tournament starts; it is time to put theory into practice.
“I have to say the work we did was most satisfactory”, said Massimo Costantini. “Also, the playing conditions are pretty good, the final touches have been applied and everything is running very well.”
Followed Olympic Games
A successful Training Camp and there was a boost to the efforts of the Italian coach.
“We are lucky because the Olympics are going on”, concluded Massimo Costantini. “Every morning and every afternoon we get the opportunity to talk about the great champions who are writing their names in the history of table tennis in London; this makes us very proud to be part of the table tennis family.”
Proud indeed, the table tennis tournament in London’s ExCeL Arena was the best ever; the venue, the organization was superb and the players were magnificent.
Followed Olympic Games
Rio de Janeiro and beyond awaits; it awaits for the teenagers and younger, currently competing on the ITTF Junior Circuit; at the moment those in Guatemala.
Members of the Training Camp with Massimo Costantini (blue shirt)
Photo by Daniel Tran