Sathiyan Gnanasekaran seeking to succeed at senior level
Photo By: Ireneusz Kanabrodzki
GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour, US Open, Americas Challenge Series (Click here to access this section)
The qualification stage of an ITTF World Tour tournament is an opportunity for young players, especially those who have shown promise as juniors, to gain experience on the international scene.
It is a vehicle that provides the transport to the next stage; however, that vehicle can have several stops on the journey.
Undoubtedly the GAC Group 2013 ITTF World Tour United States Open which starts in Las Vegas on Wednesday 3rd June is no exception.
In the opening stage of the Menís Singles event notably both the host nationís 21 year old Timothy Wang and Indiaís 20 year old Sathiyan Gnanasekaran are on duty. They are perfect examples of two players on the journey.
Timothy Wang, on duty at the London 2012 Olympic Games, was the runner up in the Menís event earlier this year at the ITTF-North American Cup in Westchester; a fate he also experienced in 2011 when the tournament was staged in Mississauga.
Equally, Sathiyan Gnanasekaran has demonstrated in the past that he has the potential to achieve at senior level but has yet to make the transition.
Last Eight in Morocco
At the Indian Junior and Cadet Open in 2008 in Pune, he reached the semi-final stage of the Junior Boysí Singles event and achieved the same finish one year later in Indore and in 2011 in Dehradun.
Furthermore, one week ago at the Morocco Open in Rabat, he was in form; he progressed to the quarter-final stage of the Menís Singles event, losing to the eventual silver medallist, Belgiumís Robin Devos.
Equally, there many other promising young players in action; notably there is Sathiyan Gnanasekaranís colleague, Jubin Kumar, whilst from Latin America Venezuelaís Jonathan Pino lines up alongside the Dominican Republic duo of Juan Vila and Emil Santos.
Impressive young players and it is the same from North America. In addition to Timothy Wang; Adam Hugh and Zhang Yahao are notable aspiring names who appear in the first phase of affairs.
Likewise from north of the border in Canada, Xavier Therien, the winner of the ITTF-North America Cup in 2012 will be in action.
From Denbigh to Las Begas
Also in the first phase of the Womenís Singles event, the names of promising young players appear.
Twin sisters Megan and Anharad Phillips make the long journey from the quiet north Wales market town of Denbigh, a different world to Las Vegas; whilst from Canada Anqi Luo appears on the start list as does Prachi Jha from the United States.
Furthermore, there are those on duty with a few degrees more experience; the names of Mexicoís Yadira Silva, Romaniaís Iulia Necula and Hungaryís Rita Kertai all appear in the draw for the group stage of the Womenís Singles event.
They have experience but when it comes to experience there are two names that appear in the first phase of the Menís Singles event who have more knowledge than most; wisdom gained through years of international experience.
Jim Butler from the United States and Mexicoís Guillermo MuŮoz both appear on the entry list; the former is now 42 years old, the latter a mere 49 years of age. Both are intoxicated with table tennis.
Top Two Qualify
Furthermore, both have a more than realistic chance of qualifying for the main draw.
Players finishing in first and second places in each of the 24 groups in the first stage of proceedings in the Menís Singles event progress to the main draw where they join the 16 seeds in a first round of 64 players.
In the counterpart Womenís Singles event, the top two players from each of the 12 groups advance to the main draw where they line up alongside the eight seeds in a first round of 32 players.
Preliminary Round Needed
Meanwhile, in the Under 21 Menís Singles event where there are 16 groups in the first phase of proceedings, the players finishing in first place in each group progress to a preliminary round; the winners of the preliminary round matches advance to join the eight seeds in a first round main draw of 16 players.
In the Under 21 Womenís Singles event, the players finishing in first place in each of the eight groups gain places in the first round where they join the eight seeds.