by Simon Daish
Seeded third for the tournament Kyoka Kato was expected to be given a tough time in the all-Japanese semi-final encounter against the top seed Maki Shiomi.
Yet, rather astoundingly the match didn’t go according to plan for Maki Shiomi as Kyoka Kato put in a commanding effort to stun the top seed and seal her progress to the Under 21 Women’s Singles final.
The other player to advance beyond the semi-finals was Saki Shibata, after she beat Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz (11-9, 7-11, 11-2, 11-4).
Saki Shibata entered the 2017 Under 21 Women’s Singles tournament having finished in the runners up position in the category at last year’s event, and the aim of standing on the top step of the podium one year later in Minsk is still a possibility for the Japanese player.
Romania’s Cristian Pletea is one of the Under 21 Men’s Singles finalists, after the fourth seeded player overcame Irvin Bertrand of France.
Bertrand was a surprise fixture in the last four having ousted the second seed Sun Chia-Hung of Chinese Taipei at an earlier stage of the event, but the French competitor was unable to repeat his success in the semi-finals as Cristian Pletea came through the tie in four ends (11-9, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5).
“We’ve played many times at the junior tournaments, and the matches were always hard. I’d been a bit worried before the game, but calmed down when it started. Me and my coach made up the right tactics, which helped me to win. I think in the finals the chances of my victory are 50-50”, Cristian Pletea.
Yuto Kizukuri came through a difficult tie against the Czech Republic’s Tomas Polansky to book his spot in the Under 21 Men’s Singles final.
The top seed representing Japan Yuto Kizukuri didn’t get off to the brightest of starts against the no.3 seed Tomas Polansky, however, Kizukuri took his performance up another level and a positive finish to the match sent the Japanese contestant through to the final stage of the competition (4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-8) where he will meet Cristian Pletea.
Watch the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open unfold, follow the action live with itTV