by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Defeats for Suthasini Sawettabut and Saki Shibata but in Women’s Singles events on the international scene both can reflect on the fact that in the Croatian capital city they enjoyed what was arguably their best performance to date.
None can match the progress made this year by Miu Hirano, like Saki Shibata from Japan but take super girl out of the equation and in terms of consistent improvement Saki Shibata and Suthasini Sawettabut would come high on the list.
Notably for Saki Shibata, it was her second Women’s Singles semi-final appearance of the year on the ITTF Challenge Series; in Belarus she was beaten by colleague Hitomi Sato, as she was one round earlier in Thailand.
Meanwhile, in Slovenia she advanced to the third round losing to Korea’s Lee Eunhye; whilst on the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour it was the champion elect Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, who ended progress in the opening round in Korea.
Only on one occasion this year has Saki Shibata not qualified for the main draw and perhaps Sofia Polcanova was looking over her shoulder and hoping that there could be a repeat of the result witnessed in Belarus last year, when in the second round of the Women’s Singles event, Saki Shibata beat Nonoka Hashimoto.
The only occasion this year when Saki Shibata has not qualified for the main draw was at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open; she was beaten in the preliminary stage by Sofia Polcanova!
Meanwhile, for Suthasini Sawettabut it was the first time at an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series tournament that she had reached the penultimate round; on home soil in Thailand, she had been beaten by India’s Ayhika Mukherjee in round two, last week in Slovenia she departed one round later, losing to Britt Eerland.
However, most notably at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF Asian Championships in round three she beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem before departing proceedings at the hands of China’s Ding Ning.
It was a most noteworthy performance; it was the same in Zagreb.