24 Dec 2018

Teenage talent amongst Japanese female players is currently abundant but one player from the Land of the Rising Sun who performed with the utmost consistency in 2018, time and again attracting the attention, does not fall into that category.

She falls into the category of talent but not that of teenager, Saki Shibata is the player in question, the year when she celebrated her 21st birthday was her most successful ever.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A gold medal haul with which no other player can compare, she won no less than 10 titles at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments.

In Spain, Croatia, Belgium and Belarus she won the Women’s Singles event; in Spain and Croatia, as well as in Thailand and Slovenia she was the Under 21 Women’s Singles winner. Meanwhile, when partnering Satsuki Odo she reserved the top step of the podium in Belgium and in Belarus.

Also on the Seamaster 2018 ITTF World Tour she reached the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles events in both the Czech Republic and most pertinently in June in China; notably in the latter in the second round accounting for the host nation’s Zhu Yuling. The end result was 16th position on the end of year Standings and a place in the Grand Finals.

A series of most creditable results but at the major events on the 2018 calendar, there was no place in the national team for Saki Shibata; she was not selected for the Team World Cup in London, nor the Liebherr World Team Championships in Halmstad. Similarly, she did not secure a place in the squad chosen for the Asian Games in Jakarta.

In 2018, Saki Shibata proved herself a player of quality, her performances sending messages after messages to the selectors; I wonder in 2019 will we see her in Budapest at the World Championships and perhaps later in the year in Bali at the Asian Championships?

Surely, she has earned the opportunity?

2018 Review of Year Saki Shibata