by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Moreover, is she the biggest threat to China in the Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events?
Notably for the first time in the history of the ITTF World Tour, the inaugural tournament being staged in early April 1996 in the English market town of Kettering, Mixed Doubles will be staged.
Pertinently Mima Ito partners Masataka Morizono, the player with whom she won the Mixed Doubles title at the Japanese National Championships earlier this year, they are the top seeds. Next in line is the pairing of Hong Kong’s Wong Chun Ting and Doo Hoi Kem; they are followed by Chinese Taipei’s Chen Chien-An and Cheng I-Ching with Korea’s Lee Sangsu and Jeon Jihee completing the top four names.
However, look further down the list and two Chinese pairs catch the eye, one more than another. Lin Gaoyuan partners Chen Xingtong but the partnership on whom the eyes of the adoring fans will focus is that of the enigmatic Zhang Jike, who partners the resolute Wang Manyu.
Similarly in the Women’s Doubles event, joining forces with Hina Hayata, Mima Ito occupies the top seeded position; the combination of Doo Hoi Kem is next in line but just as in the Mixed Doubles, look further down the order and notable Chinese pairs appear.
Ding Ning partners Zhu Yuling; Chen Xingtong and Sun Yingsha are in harness, the recent winners in Hong Kong.
The top seed in both Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events, in the Women’s Singles the name of Mima Ito appears further down the list; she is the no.6 seed but is she not the player on whom, in recent weeks, Chinese coaches and players will have afforded the greatest scrutiny?
She completed the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships unbeaten, notably in the final against China overcoming Liu Shiwen; last week in Hong Kong, she came within a hair’s breadth of beating Wang Manyu at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event.
In Shenzhen, Ding Ning, Sun Yingsha, Wang Manyu and Zhu Yuling are all on duty but they are all looking over their shoulders, noting the player who in recent weeks has caused them the greatest problems; noting the name of Mima Ito.