03 Jul 2019

A total of 22 players from the host association commenced matters in the women’s singles qualification tournament; when play concluded on Wednesday 3rd July at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Shinan Korea Open in Busan, just one player had booked a main draw place.

It was not happy reading for the home nation.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

The one player to progress was Kim Hayeong, she is the former Chinese junior international player, Li Yiram and is not at the moment eligible to compete in world title events.

She joins Suh Hyuwon, the no.10 seed and Jeon Jihee, the no.15 seed in the main draw; with the World Team Championships to be held in Busan in some eight months’ time, there must be concern in the Korea Republic camp.

At the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, a bronze medal was secured but that was in unique circumstances when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and the Korea Republic joined forces to compete as a united team, after being drawn to play each other in the quarter-finals.

One must turn the clock back to 2012 in Dortmund when the Korea Republic as a separate entity, secured medal in a women’s team event at a World Championships. Significantly, fielding Kim Kyungah, Seok Hajung and Dang Yeseo, at the quarter-final stage they recorded a narrow 3-2 win against Japan’s Kasumi Ishikawa, Ai Fukuhara and Sayaka Hirano.

The date is relevant, it is since 2012 that Japan has developed an ever increasing group of talented young female players; notably in Halmstad with Kasumi Ishikawa joining forces with Miu Hirano and Mima Ito, a 3-0 win was posted against the united Korea team of Jeon Jihee, Kim Song I and Yang Haeun.

In the six year period Japan has undergone somewhat of a revolution. Moreover just as China has proved over the years, a depth of talent is essential to maintain success; one generation finishes, another is ready to step into illustrious shoes. It is happening in Japan.

At the current Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Shinan Korea Open, overall 13 players from Japan commenced proceedings in the women’s singles qualification; no less than nine booked main draw places. Furthermore, of the four who did not make the grade, only two, Maki Shiomi and Kaho Akae lost to adversaries from foreign shores. Both departed at host nation hands; Maki Shiomi lost to Lee Zion, Kaho Akae was beaten by Shin Yubin.

Add the five seeded Japanese players in the guise of Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito, Miu Hirano, Hitomi Sato and Saki Shibata; no less than 14 players from Japan compete in round one.

It is a quite staggering number, the 2020 World Team Championships in mind, Japan is looking forward with anticipation, for Korea Republic, an air of concern.

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World Tour 2019 Seamaster SHINHAN Korea Open Kim Hayeong

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Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour SHINHAN Korea Open - Day 2