by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
At the recent Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Platinum German Open in Bremen, Hitomi Sato experienced an opening round defeat when facing colleague Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed and eventual champion.
However, earlier in the month in Qatar she had excelled; on that occasion she had beaten Chinese Taipei’s Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng I-Ching before, as was to be the scenario in Germany, she lost to the winner, China’s Liu Shiwen.
Defeat at the hands of the eventual champion at the first two ITTF World Tour Platinum tournaments of the year is no mean feat; if there has been a disappointment, it was at the ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open, when she experienced a third round reverse at the hands of Pauline Chasselin of France.
The defeat against Pauline Chasselin may have been a disappointment but in the month of March, the only player amongst the leading names in the Women’s Singles event in Guadalajara that can compare with Hitomi Sato is her doubles partner, Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed.
In both Qatar and Germany, she lost to most creditable opposition but against players with whom she was very familiar; she was beaten respectively by team mates Miyu Kato and Miu Hirano. Defeats against colleagues cannot be considered a measure of form but in opposition to foreign adversaries, perhaps the picture is clearer.
At the ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open, Honoka Hashimoto reached the final, losing to Korea’s Yang Haeun.
Defeat at Korean hands for Honoka Hashimoto; that has been the recent problem for Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam and Hungary’s Georgina Pota; in the order of merit in Guadalajara they are the players sandwiched in between Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto.
Both have suffered at the hands of Yoo Eunchong and both in the group stage of proceedings, Minnie Soo Wai Yam in Qatar, Georgina Pota in Germany. Equally in Germany it was defeat in the group phase for Minnie Soo Wai Yam but to say the least a tough draw; she was beaten by China’s Mu Zi. Georgina Pota did not competed in Qatar.
Major contenders for honours in the Women’s Singles event; it is the same in the Women’s Double where their names are most prominent. Honoka Hashimoto and Hotomi Sato are the top seeds, Georgina Pota and Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm are the next on the list with Minnie Soo Wai Yam and colleague, Ng Wing Nam occupying the no.3 seed spot. Luxembourg’s Sarah de Nutte and Ni Xialian complete the top four pairings.
Equally, the name of Minnie Soo Wai Yam appears prominently in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event. She is the top seed, ahead of Japan’s Saki Shibata, the winner last week in Germany. Hong Kong colleague Mak Tze Wing is the three seed, followed by Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz.
Notably both Saki Shibata and Adriana Diaz feature prominently in the Women’s Singles event; Saki Shibata is the no.5 seed, one place ahead of Matilda Ekholm. Adriana Diaz is the no.7 seed; a list in which Ng Nam completes the top eight names.
Overall, including qualification 72 players will compete in the Women’s Singles event, in Women’s Doubles the number is 26 pairs in total, for Cadet Girls’ Singles competition, the sum is 35 entrants.