by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Impressively in the Women’s Singles event, she beat Chinese Taipei’s Wang Yi-Ju (11-7, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7).
Later in the day in the Under 21 Women’s Singles competition, the no.5 seed, after having caused Chinese Taipei more pain by beating Chiu Ssu-Hua in a full distance duel (6-11, 11-6, 4-11, 11-7, 11-7), she accounted for Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the no.2 seed, in a further five games contest (6-11, 11-7, 13-11, 9-11, 11-3) to reserve her place in the last four.
The win reflects a distinct liking that Kyoka Kato has for Chengdu; three years ago on the first day of play, Wednesday 4th June, in the qualification stage of the Women’s Singles event at the GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour China Open, making only her second appearance on the ITTF World Tour and with no current World ranking, she caused quite a stir. She beat Thailand’s Nanthana Komwong and Korea’s Yoo Eunchong (11-5, 11-7, 13-11, 11-9) to reserve her place in the main draw.
At the time Nanthana Komwong was named at no.86 on the Women’s World Rankings, Yoo Eunchong at no.66. A place in the main draw but further progress came to an abrupt end; she was beaten by the champion elect, a certain host nation player named Ding Ning.
One surprise semi-finalist but there were no more. Doo Hoi Kem, the top seed and like Minnie Soo Wai Yam from Hong Kong, progressed to the semi-final stage as did Kyoka Kato’s compatriots Maki Shiomi and Saki Shibata, the respective third and fourth seeds.
Similarly, Maki Shiomi overcame Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yu-Wen, the no.11 seed (12-10, 9-11, 11-9, 12-10) before being stretched to the limit by Miyuu Kihara, the no.10 seed (18-16, 7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-9).
Testing times for Doo Hoi Kem, less so for Saki Shibata who also faced colleagues; she overcame Yuka Minagawa, the no.16 seed (11-7, 11-9, 11-8), before defeating Minami Ando, the no.7 seed (11-8, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7).
At the semi-final stage Doo Hoi Kem meets Maki Shiomi; Saki Shibata opposes Kyoka Kato.