by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
A second title of the year at a recognised open international tournament; overall in what is now seven Women’s Singles finals on the ITTF World Tour and ITTF Challenge Series, Mima Ito, who will celebrate her 17th birthday on Saturday 21st October, has now won on five occasions.
Notably in all but one of those finals, she has faced Japanese opponents in the title deciding contest; the exception is the very first, in 2015 she won in Germany overcoming the host nation’s Petrissa Solja to reserve the top step of the medal podium.
Later in the same year in Belarus she beat Misako Wakamiya to secure the top prize, before in 2016 in Austria accounting for Yui Hamamoto and earlier this year in the Czech Republic overcoming Kasumi Ishikawa to add to her growing title collection.
The defeats at the final hurdle accrued in 2015 in Korea when losing to Ai Fukuhara and in the week prior to this year’s Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Czech Open, when she had lost to Kasumi Ishikawa in Bulgaria.
Meanwhile for Saki Shibata it was her second appearance in a recognised open international tournament Women’s Singles final; on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 in Belarus she had emerged victorious beating the host nation’s Viktoria Pavlovich to seal the title.
In Czestochowa there was to be no such repeat; Mima Ito had other ideas; the form displayed in the Czech Republic was repeated in Poland, once again she owned the highest step on the podium.