by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Named at no.4 (681 points) on the ITTF World Tour Women’s Singles Standings, she is assured of an invitation to the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be staged later this year in Doha.
Likewise, Cheng I-Ching and Mima Ito can anticipate the call to travel to the Gulf state, as can the latter’s colleague, Yuka Ishigaki.
Mima Ito, who emerged successful at the recently concluded Hybiome Austrian Open in Linz, is in the no.9 spot (519 points), Cheng I-Ching is at no.10 (488 points); whilst Yuka Ishigaki occupies the same place as her seeding in Stockholm. She is at no.13 (438 points).
No doubt Cheng I-Ching has a point to prove in Stockholm; currently listed at no.8 on the Women’s World Rankings, she enjoys the highest status of her career, a result of consistent performances. However in Linz there was a blip; the top seed in the Women’s Singles event, she was beaten in the third round by Mima Ito’s colleague, Yui Hamamoto.
Eyes focused on Doha, for seven further players in the Women’s Singles event, it is perhaps half any eye, or just a glance looking towards the Qatari city.
Germany’s Han Ying and Shan Xiaona, alongside Korea’s Jeon Jihee and Suh Hyowon, in addition to Japan’s Hitomi Sato and Yui Hamamoto may not be favourites to reserve places at the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals but the door is not closed. Stranger things have happened in sport.
Han Ying, the no.2 seed in Stockholm, is currently at no.16 (350 points), whilst colleague Shan Xiaona, the no.7 seed, is at no.18 (347 points), one place ahead of Hitomi Sato, the no.9 seed, at no.19 (320 points).
Meanwhile, Korea’s Suh Hyowon, the no.10 seed, is at no.20 (313 points); Jeon Jihee, the no.5 seed, is named at no.24 (285 points), with Yui Hamamoto, the no.16 seed, being listed at no.22 (293 points).
In order to have any realistic hope of a place in Doha; Hitomi Sato and Suh Hyowon need to reach the semi-final stage in Stockholm; Yui Hamamoto must at the very least repeat her Austrian efforts and advance to the final, as must Jeon Jihee.
A tall order for Jeon Jihee in the Women’s Singles event in Sweden; it is not the scenario in the Women’s Doubles competition where she partners Yang Haeun. The duo occupies the no.2 spot on the Standings (1,050 points), being one place ahead of Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato (539 points), the winners recently in Austria and the no.2 seeds in Sweden. Both pairs are assured of a Doha invitation.
Invitations anticipated; it is the same for Japan’s Sakura Mori and Saki Shibata in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event.
Both are assured of the required top seven finish; Sakura Mori, the winner in Austria and the no.4 seed in Sweden, is at no.5 (565 points), one place apart from Saki Shibata, the no.3 seed who on the Standings is at no.6 (491 points).
If anyone deserves an invitation to the Seamaster Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals, it is Saki Shibata; Sweden is no less than her 14th ITTF World Tour appearance of the year!
However, for the remaining leading names in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event in Stockholm, an invitation to Doha rests on a good performance in Stockholm.
Japan’s Maki Shiomi the no.2 seed but at no.19 on the Standings (132 points) is out of the equation but that is not the situation for colleague Miyu Maeda the no.5 seed, nor for Korea’s Choi Hyojoo, the top seed.
Choi Hyojoo is at no.9 (320 points), Miyu Maeda one place higher at no.8 (334 points); in Stockholm it is decision time and only one place remains.