by Ian Marshall, Editor
They are the teenagers who have hit the headlines in the past two years by executing quite staggering performances; in 2017 Miu Hirano won the women’s singles title at the Seamaster Asian Championships in Wuxi, one after another she beat the elite of China, in the latter stages accounting for Ding Ning, Chen Meng and Zhu Yuling in succession to arrest the title.
Similarly, consecutively, five months ago in Stockholm, Mima Ito overcame Liu Shiwen, Ding Ning and Zhu Yuling to secure the top step of the podium.
The wins have rather overshadowed those of the ever faithful Kasumi Ishikawa; the one player who remains from the London 2012 Olympic Games silver medal winning team; in the opening round in Doha, she did not enjoy the best of fortunes, the no.2 seed, she suffered at the hands of China’s Sun Yingsha (11-7, 11-9, 14-12, 11-5). Once again she was overshadowed by her younger compatriots.
Now in Doha as play progresses and the forthcoming Liebherr 2019 World Championships looms, could it be the turn of Mima Ito and Miu Hirano to be overshadowed?
The Japanese player in form and selected for the women’s singles event in Budapest is Miyu Kato. She earned her trip to the Hungarian capital city by winning the Japanese selection tournament in January; last week, she added to that success by clinching the women’s singles title at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open.
Now in Doha, successfully through to the main draw, she caused an opening round upset; she beat her compatriot, Hitomi Sato, the no.10 seed, in a gruelling encounter (11-7, 6-11, 7-11, 13-11, 11-9, 8-11, 15-13).
It was the closest contest of the day but that is where Miyu Kato excels, she plays in a totally uninhibited way, her narrow seven games quarter-final defeat against Zhu Yuling at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Swedish Open highlighting that fact, she trailed by three games one, before recovering to force a deciding seventh.
Either in Doha or Budapest, Miyu Kato will not be intimated by the occasion, in fact quite the opposite, she will revel in the challenge; for her the theory is simple – the bigger they are, the harder they fall!
Make no mistakes, there might well be some bumps along the highway before the end of March and also before the end of April.