by Ian Marshall, Editor
Prominent names on the international scene were present and successful.
At the quarter-final stage of the women’s singles event, Mima Ito beat Minami Ando (15-13, 11-13, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6), Sakura Mori accounted for Miyu Kato 12-10, 7-11, 8-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-5). Soon after Hina Hayata and Miyuu Kihara added their names to the semi-final line-up. Hina Hayata ended the progress of Saki Shibata (11-4, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7), Miyuu Kihara, only 15 years old, overcame the defensive skills of Hitomi Sato (5-11, 12-10, 7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 11-9).
Immediately following in the men’s singles quarter-finals were on the agenda.
Tomokazu Harimoto beat Maharu Yoshimura (11-6, 11-6, 11-9, 11-8), Yuya Oshima stifled the aspirations of Hibiki Tazoe (11-2, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4). They were followed by Jun Mizutani who defeated Koki Niwa (13-11, 11-8, 11-7, 12-10) and Yuto Kizukuri who overcame Asuka Machi (11-8, 11-5, 11-8, 11-7).
Success for Mima Ito and Hina Hayata, it was the same later in the day, as it was for Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri.
After accounting for Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto (11-5, 11-6, 14-12), Hina Hayata and Mima Ito retained their women’s doubles title by overcoming Saki Shibata and Satsuki Odo (11-3, 11-9, 12-14, 11-6); the latter duo having accounted for Yuki Matsumoto and Yurika Taira (11-5, 12-10, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8) to reserve their place in the title decider.
Impressive performances from Mima Ito and Hina Hayata, it was very much the same for Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri but in much more dramatic circumstances; they secured the title by the very minimal margin in the deciding game. Eventually, they overcame the spirited resistance of Yuki Matsuyama and Masaki Takami (9-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-5, 16-14).
Earlier at the semi-final stage Tomokazu Harimoto and Yuto Kizukuri had beaten Jun Mizutani and Yuya Oshima (15-13, 11-9, 5-11, 12-10), Yuki Matsuyama and Masaki Takami had overcome Kaiki Matsushita and Tomoya Fujimura (9-11, 6-11, 11-9, 13-11, 11-8).
An enthralling day for the spectators and they were present to witness a special occasion. Prior to the women’s doubles final commencing, Ai Fukuhara, vital to Japan’s silver medal women’s team success at the London 2012 Olympic Games and the bronze medal four years later in Rio de Janeiro, was again centre stage. Fujishige Sadayoshi, the President of the Japan Table Tennis Association, made a special presentation in recognition of her loyalty and outstanding contribution to sport.
In October last year Ai Fukuhara announced her retirement from international play. She thanked the fans for the support received over a period of 26 years; she is expecting her second child in June.