by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
In fact just one contest went according to status; Jeon Jihee, the no.9 seed, beat Japan’s Maki Shiomi to add to the host nation’s delight. She emerged successful in six games (11-6, 7-11, 7-11, 11-9, 11-4, 13-11).
Pride of place went to Lee Zion, currently no World ranking owing to an absence from the international scene but on duty last week at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships, the 20 year old accounted for Japan’s Mima Ito, the no.4 seed (11-3, 11-8, 6-11, 2-11, 12-10, 11-9).
“I have never played before against Mima Ito but I could feel she was very nervous as she is much higher ranked than me. I felt no pressure so I was able to be more active and play my own game. My objective was to win against a higher ranked player, now achieving that goal; I hope to continue this way.” Lee Zion
Disappointment for Japan at the hands of Korean opposition, not once but twice; at the same time as Lee Zion was facing Mima Ito, Choi Hyunjoo was ending the hopes of Hitomi Sato, the no.10 seed. In a similar manner Choi Hyojoo prevailed in six games (11-4, 4-11, 11-9, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5).
Two unexpected defeats for Japan and there was one more; Misaki Morizono, the no.14 seed, was beaten by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu in yet another six games encounter (6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-8, 11-4).
One reverse after another for the Land of the Rising Sun; however, there was a shining light amongst the aspiring young group. Miyu Kato beat Germany’s Petrissa Solja, the no.8 seed, in seven games (11-7, 11-9, 6-11, 9-11, 11-7, 7-11, 11-7) to somewhat balance the books
“I had a fighting spirit throughout the entire match and in the final stages of each game I kept calm and confident; that made the difference.” Miyu Kato
Surprises in the top half of the draw but as play concluded with contests in the lower half, the end results were as status advised; Japan enjoying notable success.
Miu Hirano, the no.5 seed, beat Singapore’s Lin Ye (12-10, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7); Sakura Mori, the no.16 seed, overcame Romania’s Bernadette Szocs (11-3, 19-17, 11-5, 8-11, 11-8), whilst Germany’s Shan Xiaona ended the hopes of the host nation’s Lee Eunhye (11-8, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 9-11, 11-7).
Play in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event continues on Friday 21st April.