by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Earlier in the year she had been the runner up on home soil in Hong Kong losing to China’s Qian Tianyi in the final, before accounting for compatriot Mak Tze Wing in the title deciding contest in Chinese Taipei.
A third appearance for Minnie Soo Wai Yam; for Maki Shiomi it was her fourth excursion, her third final but her first defeat in the gold medal contest. In Italy she had beaten colleague Miyuu Kihara in the final before more recently in Serbia, she had secured the title at the final expense of the host nation’s Izabela Lupulesku.
Pertinent results but arguably, the most pertinent of all was her second round defeat on her one other appearance; in Hong Kong she was beaten by Minnie Soo Wai Yam.
“I prepared a great before the final. I knew that every match would be difficult but I had played her before, I knew that it will be extremely tough. My target was to be the champion and I thought it was possible but it was difficult, because every match was different. Today was a very tiring day, very exhausting, because I played seven matches. It was a matter of spirit and self-determination”, Minnie Soo Wai Yam after the final
In Szombathely, Minnie Soo Wai Yam prevailed again; impressively she clinched the title without being extended the full seven games distance at any stage of the proceedings.
Confident, in the latter rounds she overcame Chinese Taipei’s Fang Sih-Han at the quarter-final stage (11-3, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8), before in a more testing penultimate round contest accounting for Miyu Nagasaki, the no.3 seed and like Maki Shiomi from Japan (8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8).
Moments of concern to a minimum; for Maki Shiomi life was more exacting. She needed six games to beat Mak Tze Wing, the no.7 seed in the round of the last eight (7-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-9), before by a similar margin, ousting compatriot, Kana Takeuchi, the no.4 seed in the semi-finals (9-11, 12-10, 4-11, 11-9, 14-12, 11-7).
“We played one month ago, so her game was already familiar to me. I tried to perform as we discussed with my coach at training but from the fifth game onwards I made a lot of mistakes. I will try to play better at the team matches”, Mak Tze Wing after losing to Maki Shiomi
Disappointment for Maki Shiomi, delight for Minnie Soo Wai Yam; in the Junior Girls’ Doubles competition it was the reverse scenario.
Partnering colleague Yuko Kato and occupying the top seeded position in the draw, the Japanese duo accounted for Hungary’s Orsolya Feher and Leonie Hartbricht, the no.14 seeds, at the semi-final stage (12-10, 9-11, 14-12, 11-5), before clinching the title at the final expense of Russia’s Kristina Kazantseva and Valeria Shcherbatykh (11-3, 11-7, 11-5).
Occupying the no.4 seeded place in the draw, Kristina Kazantseva and Valeria Shcherbatykh had emerged somewhat surprise finalists; notably in the semi-finals they accounted for Mak Tze Wing and Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the no.2 seeds (11-9, 12-10, 10-12, 11-6).
Play in the Junior Girls’ Singles and Junior Girls’ Doubles events concluded; attention now turns the Junior Girls’ Team and Cadet Girls’ Team competitions.