by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A surprise name through to the main draw but Ayami Narumoto was not alone; colleague Minami Ando alongside the Korean trio of Lee Zion, Song Maeum and Lee Eunhye all booked main draw places somewhat contrary to expectations.
If Ayamai Narumoto caused the biggest upset; then arguably Minami Ando caused the second; listed at no.103 on the present Women’s World Rankings, she overcame Cheng Hsien-Tu named at no.96 (8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-4, 11-3, 11-7). The difference in status is not the major reason the outcome was somewhat of a surprise; at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur, Cheng Hsien-Tu had played a pivotal role in the Chinese Taipei team’s bronze medal success.
Success for Japan contrary to expectations; there were three pertinent results in the reverse direction, host nation players proving the nemesis.
No current World Rankings, Lee Eunhye, Song Maeum and Lee Zion all reserved main draw places somewhat against predictions and the expense of Japan.
Lee Eunhye beat Mizuki Morizono, named at no.80; whilst Song Maeum defeated Miyuu Kihara, named at no.159.
Meanwhile, Lee Zion ended the hopes of Eka So (3-11, 11-9, 11-4, 9-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-7); neither player is the owner of a current World Ranking but it was the first time that Lee Zion had emerged successful against the Japanese pen-holder in international competition. In 2013 they had met in both the Junior Girls’ Team event and the Junior Girls’ Singles at the Spanish Junior and Cadet Open, on both occasions Eka So had prevailed.
Surprises in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament but not where the two leading names were involved; however, there was a close call.
Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, listed at no.22 on the Women’s World Rankings, needed the full seven games to beat Korea’s Park Joohyun (8-11, 9-11, 17-15, 11-8, 14-12, 9-11, 11-8); rather more comfortably colleague Miyu Kato, named no.34, accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Lu Yu-Hsin with just the loss of the second game (11-8, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9).
Park Joohyun has no current global status; Lu Yu-Hsin is listed in the no.170 spot.