by Ian Marshall, Editor
Furthermore, he heads a strong Japanese challenge for honours, Kenta Matsudaira is the no.2 seed, Mizuki Oikawa the no.4 seed; sandwiched in between is Germany’s Ruwen Filus.
Similar to Jin Ueda, both Kenta Matsudaira and Mizuki Oikawa have enjoyed success on the international scene. In 2016 on the ITTF World Tour Kenta Matsudaira won in Austria, last year at the ITTF Challenge Series tournament in Bulgaria, he was the runner up. Meanwhile, also in 2018, Mizuki Oikawa emerged successful in Slovenia.
Candidates for podium finishes apart; together, Jin Ueda and Kenta Matsudaira are also major title contenders; in 2017 not only did Jin Ueda win the men’s singles top prize, he partnered Kenta Matsudaira to men’s doubles gold. In 2019, they are the no.2 seeds behind Germany’s Tobias Hippler and Kilian Ort.
Also further down the list, there are Japanese names to note; especially those of Yuta Tanaka, Kohei Sambe and Masaki Takami.
Last year in Thailand Yuta Tanaka won the under 21 men’s singles title, whilst in 2014 on the ITTF World Tour Kohei Sambe created history. In Chile, by the very narrowest of margins, he beat Argentina’s Rodrigo Gilabert in the final. At the time he was 16 years old and became the youngest player ever to achieve the feat; of course that record has since been beaten by compatriot Tomokazu Harimoto.
Both Yuta Tanaka and Kohei Sambe could well have an influence on proceedings, a situation that applies also to Masaki Takami; in 2017, he was runner up in Belgium.
Notably Masaki Takami and Yuta Tanaka occupy the no.6 seeded position in the men’s doubles event; Yuta Tanaka defends his under 21 men’s singles title, he is the top seed, ahead of Tobias Hippler and Masaki Takami.
An imposing entry from Japan, all players who are just below the line for first team selection; success in Bangkok may not sway the selectors with next year’s World Championships and Olympic Games in mind but could such success provide a springboard for greater things that may just have an influence?