by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Occupying the no.6 seeded position, in the main draw on the second day of play, she accounted for Belgium’s Natacha Koszulap, the no.14 seed (11-6, 11-8, 11-7, 11-8), before overcoming Leili Mostafavi of France, the no.7 seed (11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 6-11, 11-3) and Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn, the no.5 seed (11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-7) to reserve her place in the final.
Hard fought contests, in the title decider, life was less testing. She beat Lucie Gauthier, the no.3 seed and like Leili Mostafavi from France in four straight games (11-5, 11-8, 11-2, 11-9).
Notable performances, especially when taken into account the fact that both Leili Mostafavi and Anna Wegrzyn were players in form. Earlier both had caused major upsets by beating highly rated adversaries from Hong Kong. In round two, Leili Mostafavi had accounted for Lee Ka Yee, the no.2 seed (11-9, 10-12, 11-8, 11-6, 4-11, 8-11, 11-3); one round later at the quarter-final stage, Anna Wegrzyn had ended the progress of Wong Chin Yau, the no.2 seed (11-8, 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-4).
Meanwhile, in the opposite half of the draw, in the later rounds, Lucie Gauthier had beaten Men Zhuohan of the Netherlands, the no.23 seed (5-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-8, 10-12, 11-8), prior to accounting for a most impressive Japanese duo. She overcame Hikari Okubo, the no.21 seed (11-8, 11-2, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9) and Kaha Akae, a player new to the international scene and with no world ranking (11-7, 11-13, 11-1, 11-1) to reserve her place in the final.
Previously, at the quarter-final stage Kaha Akae had beaten Hungary’s Fanni Harasztovich, the no.9 seed (11-7, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5, 8-11, 11-6), the second round winner in opposition to Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze, the top seed (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 4-11, 14-12).
Most significantly, Hikari Okubo is 12 years old, Kaho Akae in 13 years of age; further endorsement of Japan’s reservoir of excellence.
Disappointment for Hong Kong but in the Junior Girls’ Doubles event there was success; Lee Ka Yee and Wong Chin Yau secured the top prize. At the final hurdle they beat Spain’s Alba Fernandez and Ana Garcia (11-7, 9-11, 11-5, 11-5).
Play now continues with the Junior Girls’ Team and Cadet Girls’ Team events.