by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
An outstanding performances but the overall record is even more outstanding.
The win means that she has emerged successful at the five most recent open international tournaments organised under the banner of the International Table Tennis Federation.
In March on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour she won in Germany, then later in the month on the ITTF Challenge Series she succeeded in Spain. In April she repeated the success in Slovenia and Croatia before now in May winning in Thailand.
Overall, she has now nine Under 21 Women’s Singles titles to her credit at open international tournaments. In addition to her success this year and her now two titles in Thailand, in 2016 she won on the ITTF World Tour in Bulgaria; then in 2017 in Australia as well as on the ITTF Challenge Series in Belarus.
It means that Saki Shibata now passes the record of Hitomi Sato at open international tournaments. She won eight times between 2014 and 2016 and now equals that of Korea’s Yang Haeun who succeeded on nine occasions in the period 2009 to 2014.
Born on Monday 25th August 1997, Saki Shibata is now in her last year in the Under 21 age group but if present form can be maintained she still has time to set the all-time record. Colleague Kasumi Ishikawa won ten such titles in the three year period between 2010 and 2012.
Defeat at the final hurdle for Tamolwan Khetkuan, a player of a similar age to Saki Shibata but she could take heart from her efforts; at the quarter-final stage she overcame Japan’s Haruna Ojio (5-11, 11-6, 11-8, 12-10), before ending the progress of Hong Kong’s Zhang Wejing (10-12, 13-11, 13-11, 13-15, 11-4).
However, the day belonged to Saki Shibata, it was yet another outstanding performance.