by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
In the Women’s Team contest, the trio comprising Mima Ito, Kasumi Ishikawa and Miu Hirano accounted for Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, Tetyana Bilenko and Ganna Gaponova; in the counterpart Men’s Team competition, the formation of Tomokazu Harimoto, Jun Mizutani and Koki Niwa proved too strong for the Hong Kong combination of Wong Chun Ting, Ho Kwan Kit and Lam Siu Hang.
Mima Ito gave Japan the ideal start but she was tested; she needed the full five games to beat Margaryta Pesotska. Eventually she emerged successful by the minimal two point margin after trailing 8-10 in the deciding game and saving two match points (11-4, 6-11, 11-5, 13-15, 13-11).
“Either of us could have won, it wasn’t a question of tactics, it was a question of staying strong mentally; it was vital to make sure that at all times I remained focused. Playing first is an important position in the team but I don’t feel any greater pressure than playing in any other position in the team.” Mima Ito
Success for Mima Ito was followed by success against the Ukraine defensive duo; Kasumi Ishikawa beat Tetyana Bilenko (11-5, 11-5, 11-2), to be followed by Miu Hirano who accounted for Ganna Gaponova (11-2, 11-5, 11-1).
The win recorded by Mima Ito was a confidence boosting success for her colleagues; it was somewhat the same for Jun Mizutani in the Men’s contest against Hong Kong. After Tomokazu Harimoto had beaten Wong Chun Ting (11-8, 11-8, 11-9), he overcame Ho Kwan Kit (10-12, 14-12, 11-9, 11-4).
“In the first game I was nervous. After I went two-one ahead I felt much less pressure and I was able to play much more freely.” Jun Mizutani
Notably Jun Mizutani did not wear spectacles as he had done earlier in the tournament.
“The spectacles I wore aren’t quite right, I need to change the lenses; I’m finding here that the light is so bright it is hurting my eyes.” Jun Mizutani.
A hard fought win for Jun Mizutani, it was somewhat less exacting for Koki Niwa who was returning to the team, having not been selected following the loss three days earlier against England. He beat Lam Siu Hang (11-3, 11-7, 13-11).
At the quarter-final stage of the Men’s event, Japan meets Korea Republic; in the counterpart Women’s competition, Japan now meets the Unified Korean Team in the penultimate round.