by Ian Marshall, Editor
In an all Japanese last eight contest Miyuu Kihara, the top seed, beat qualifier Haruna Ojio (11-7, 7-11, 11-8, 11-4); Satsuko Odo, the no.2 seed, accounted for Russia’s Valeria Shcherbatykh (9-11, 11-8, 7-11, 11-7, 11-4).
Wins as status anticipated, in the two further quarter-final duels, it was the reverse, the qualifiers prevailed. Miku Izumo overcame Audrey Zarif of France, the no.6 seed (11-8, 11-6, 13-11); He Aige recovered from a two games to nil deficit to end the hopes of Poland’s Natalia Bajor, the no.4 seed (9-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8).
Notably for Miku Izumo, 17 years old and for He Aige, 19 years of age, it is her first such venture in an ITTF Challenge Series or ITTF World Tour tournament; the experience factor in minimal.
Now compare that with the much younger Miyuu Kihara and Satsuki Odo, both born in 2004. Both only 14 years old, Miyuu Kihara being three months the younger, their experience level is far greater, neither being strangers to the latter stages of Under 21 Women’s Singles events at open international tournaments.
In Minsk, it was no less than the ninth appearance for Satsuki Odo in an Under 21 Women’s Singles quarter-final; the third time she has emerged successful; impressively earlier this year at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments she advanced to the semi-final round in Thailand and Spain, the latter a country for which she seems to have a particular liking. In 2017, she was the winner.
Meanwhile, for Miyuu Kihara, the record is just one rung higher; Minsk was her tenth Under 21 Women’s Singles last eight appearance and, like Satsuki Odo, has one title to her name. Earlier this year she won at the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour Shinan Korea Open in Daejeon. Additionally when only 12 years old she was a semi-finalist in 2016 in Australia, in 2017 she advanced to the same round in Croatia, whilst on home soil being the runner up in Japan.
At the semi-final stage Miyuu Kihara meets He Aige, Satsuki Odo opposes Miku Izumo; the matches will be played later in the day in the evening session of play.