by Simon Daish
Seeded fourth for the event Miyu Kato was the highest ranked player remaining in the Girls’ Singles category after the top three seeds all suffered exits prior to the last four, and so all eyes turned to the 17-year-old to deliver a positive result for Japan.
However, unfortunately for Miyu Kato the dream of reaching the final did not turn to reality as the Japanese player wasn’t able to prevent her semi-final opponent Shi Xunyao from continuing her fine run at the Championships in Cape Town, with the competitor from China coming back from a game down to book her place in the final.
Shi Xunyao went into the match as the lower seeded player sitting in 26th position in the seeding table, but having claimed a huge upset win in the quarter-finals with her straight games success against the top seed Miu Hirano, the Chinese player knew that she had a decent shot at picking up a similar result in the last four against Miyu Kato; despite falling behind early on in the tie Shi Xunyao kept her composure to close out another surprise win (6-11, 11-8, 12-10, 8-11, 11-9, 11-7) and bring Miyu Kato’s campaign to an end.
“Her shots came from lots of different directions because at the beginning I don’t think her receive was great and she couldn’t cope with my backhand shots. But as the game went on, she managed to adjust to my shots and service. I think my return today was not good. I was actually hoping to win the singles but overall I can say I did well to reach the semi-finals stage” – Miyu Kato (Japan).
History was made in the other semi-finals match after Mak Tze Wing became the first player from Hong Kong to reach a Girls’ Singles final at a World Junior Championships with her 4-0 win against Romania’s Adina Diaconu.
The result was another example of the lower seeded player prevailing as Mak Tze Wing, seeded 13th, came through a difficult opening game against the No.7 seed Adina Diaconu before going on to take the next three games to put her name into the final round of the tournament (12-10, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).
“The scoreline might have been 4-0 but it was a tough match because every match for me is tough. When she was leading 10-6 in the first game, I was not thinking about the scoreline but just trying to do what I had prepared for in the match. I just continued to enjoy myself” – Mak Tze Wing (Hong Kong).
While Adina Diaconu wasn’t able to negotiate her semi-finals tie, the Romanian athlete can feel proud of her efforts after achieving her first medal in the Girls’ Singles competition.