by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
At the final hurdle Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem and Mak Tze Wing, the no.2 seeds (11-5, 13-11, 11-9); Kenji Matsudaira and Jin Ueda, the no.5 seeds, accounted for Singaporean qualifiers, Gao Ning and Pang Xue Jie (18-16, 11-6, 11-9).
Notably for Doo Hoi Kem, it was her second defeat of the day in opposition to the Japanese defensive art. In the very first match of the day, the top seed in the Women’s Singles event, she had been beaten by Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed (11-8, 13-11, 11-8, 13-15, 11-2).
Doo Hoi Kem, similar to Mak Tze Wing, has made notable strides in the past year, at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha earlier this year; she won the Under 21 Women’s Singles event in an impressive manner. However, if there is an Achilles Heel, it her ability to penetrate the defensive wall.
Improvement; for Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato it was most certainly improvement and another title to add to their collection.
At the 2017 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk in March, the top seeds, they had been narrowly beaten at the quarter-final stage by Chinese Taipei’s Lin Chia-Hsuan and Lin Po-Hsuan (11-9, 9-11, 11-9, 5-11, 11-9).
Just over two weeks later it was better news and a fourth title; on the 2016 ITTF World Tour they had won in Australia, Austria and Belarus.
Meanwhile, for Kenji Matsudaira and Jin Ueda it was their first as a partnership, although apart they had enjoyed success with fellow Japanese colleagues.
On the ITTF World Tour Kenji Matsudaira had won in Spain in 2012 when partnering Jun Mizutani; one year later on home soil in Yokohama, Jin Ueda had partnered Maharu Yoshimura to success.