by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Jun Mizutani and Kasumi Ishikawa are the notable absentees.
Kenta Matsudaira, Koki Niwa, Maharu Yoshimura, Yuya Oshima and Tomokazu Harimoto form the Men’s Team; for the counterpart Women’s Team, Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, Hitomi Sato, Hina Hayata and Miyu Kato comprise the selection.
It is a quite sobering thought that if Jun Mizutani and Kasumi Ishikawa had been selected; they would have been the most senior members of the team.
Was it not only yesterday that we saw them as promising juniors? Time flies, it was the 2003 World Junior Championships in Chile when we first set eyes on Jun Mizutani; the 2006 ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Vrsac when Kasumi Ishikawa came to our attention.
The senior citizen in Wuxi is Kenta Matsudaira, who later in 2006, stunned when only 15 years old, he won the Boys’ Singles title at the World Junior Championships in Cairo.
In Wuxi, he is one of the three names hoping for a special celebration; he will be 26 years old on Tuesday 11th April, the day of the Men’s Team semi-finals.
Meanwhile, the other two players who are in the same situation as Kenta Matsudaira are Miu Hirano and Miyu Kato; they have birthdays on Friday 14th April, the day of the Women’s Singles quarter-finals. Win on that day and a medal is assured. Miu Hirano will be 17 years old, Miyu Kato will come of age; she will be 18 years old.
Teenagers to the fore; in fact the complete Japanese Women’s Team is comprised of teenagers; Mima Ito and Hina Hayata are both 16 years old; the senior member is Hitomi Sato, the winner of the Women’s Singles events at the recent ITTF Challenge series tournaments in Belarus and Thailand. She is 19 years old.
Kenta Matsudaira, Koki Niwa, Maharu Yoshimura, Yuya Oshima and Tomokazu Harimoto are listed to compete in both the Men’s Team and Men’s Singles events; Masataka Morizono and Yuya Oshima alongside Koki Niwa and Maharu Yoshimura form the Men’s Doubles pairing.
It is a similar situation for the young ladies. Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, Hitomi Sato, Hina Hayata and Miyu Kato form the Women’s Team squad; Hina Hayata and Mima Ito compete in the Women’s Doubles event, as does the combination of Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato.
The Mixed Doubles pairings are Masataka Morizono and Mima Ito, Kenta Tazoe and Miyu Maeda.