by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
One wonders what effect the progress may have on the thoughts of those responsible for national team selection. Ai Fukuhara, very much a stalwart of the Japanese squad since the Liebherr 2003 World Championships, when only 14 years of age she reached the quarter-final stage of the Women’s Singles event, is now the fourth highest list female player from the Land of the Rising Sun.
She drops one two places to no.12, being behind Kasumi Ishikawa who climbs one place to no.6 and Mima Ito who remains at no.11.
Perhaps it is too early to predict and it is not feasible that Miu Hirano and Mima Ito can maintain the current phenomenal rate of progress; but is it possible that the name everyone in Japan knows, that of Ai Fukuhara, may not gain a place in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games?
Two players I am very sure will be present in the Japanese capital city four years hence are those of China’s Ding Ning and Liu Shiwen.
They continue to hold the top two respective positions on the Women’s World Rankings. It is for Ding Ning the second consecutive month when she has appeared in pole position and the 37th occasion overall; she first assumed top spot in November 2011.
Next in line appears the names of colleagues Li Xiaoxia and Zhu Yuling; they are followed by Singapore’s Feng Tianwei. She climbs one place to no.5 being one position ahead of Kasumi Ishikawa. Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, beaten by Miu Hirano in the Philadelphia final, advance to no.7 and thus enjoys her highest ever status; she occupied the no.8 spot in both September and October.
Previously at no.9, it is one place higher for Han Ying; whilst for China’s Chen Meng, it is a drop of one position to no.10. Notably Wu Yang, like Chen Meng from China, formerly at no.12, is no longer listed owing to an absence from the international arena.
New heights for Miu Hirano; it also means new heights on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings and on the Under 18 Girls’ World Rankings; on both she changes places with Mima Ito.
On the former she climbs from no.4 to no.2 being one place behind Zhu Yuling who retains top billing; on the latter she assumes top spot. Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem drops one place to no.4 on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings; Hina Hayata, also from Japan, remains at no.3 on the Under 18 Girls’ World Rankings.
Japanese names prominent; it is the same on the Under 15 Girls’ World Rankings where the top three places remain unchanged. Miyu Nagasaki tops the list pursued by Miyuu Kihara and Russia’s Maria Tailakova.
A highest ever listing for Miu Hirano; as a result of the European Championships it is the same for Turkey’s Hu Melek, Germany’s Sabine Winter and the Slovak Republic’s Barbora Balazova.
Hu Melek, the Women’s Singles winner, moves from no.27 to no.18, her previous best being no.21 in October and November 2015 as well as earlier this year in April; likewise, Sabine Winter climbs from no.56 to no.39 and Barbora Balazova from no.74 to no.64.
The previous best for Sabine Winter was no.48 earlier this year in May, June and August, for Barbora Balazova no.65, four months ago in June.
Similarly, for China’s 16 year old Qian Tianyi, there are new horizons; she moves from no.115 to no.99 and enjoys her best ever status and first time in the top one hundred, her previous highest was this year in August at no.104.
Progress but not the highest ever, there is notable advancement for several other prominent names with the top one hundred.
Spain’s Shen Yanfei, who recently announced her retirement from international play, moves from no.57 to no.44; Germany’s Kristin Silbereisen from no.65 to no.56 and Russia’s Maria Dolgikh from no.82 to no.72.
Likewise, Hungary’s Petra Lovas climbs from no.91 to no.81, Lily Zhang of the United States from no.100 to no.89, Britt Eerland of the Netherlands from no.105 to no.92 and Szandra Pergel, like Petra Lovas from Hungary, from no.106 to no.94.
Download: Latest World Rankings