by Ian Marshall, Editor
In the final at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Paraguay Open, she beat colleague Honoka Hashimoto (5-11, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6) to secure her fifth such title and moreover her fourth of the year.
Earlier, in 2017 she had won for the first time in Almeria on the southern coast of Spain, before this year succeeding in Muscat, Lisbon, Belgrade and now Asuncion.
She now joins the one other player at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments to have won four times in a calendar year and five overall. Colleague Maki Shiomi, who is on duty at the current 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Championships in Yogyakarta, like Hina Hayata succeeded for the first time in 2017 when she prevailed in De Haan, before in 2018 retaining her De Haan title, whilst also emerging successful in Minsk, Zagreb and Guadalajara.
Notably, since 2017 when Challenge Series tournaments became an entity in their own right and not part of the ITTF World Tour, in the women’s singles events, aspiring Japanese players have proved dominant. In addition to Hina Hayata and Saki Shibata; Hitomi Sato won in 2017 in Otocec, Bangkok and Minsk, prior to succeeding earlier this year once again in Bangkok. One wonders how near are these players to gaining a place in the Japanese first team which at the moment is very much in the hands of Kasumi Ishikawa, Mima Ito and Miu Hirano.
Overall, in a period of time which is approaching three years, of the 30 ITTF Challenge Series tournaments that have been staged, Japan has won the women’s singles title on no less than 19 occasions.
Additional to Hina Hayata, Saki Shibata and Hitomi Sato; Honoka Hashimoto, who has now been a runner up on no less than seven occasions, won in 2017 in Zagreb, the same year as which Mima Ito succeeded in the Polish city of Czestochowa. Similarly, Miyu Kato prevailed in 2018 in Slovenia and this year in Guadalajara; likewise five months ago in May, Miyuu Kihara emerged the champion in Zagreb.
Now can Hina Hayata make it five ITTF Challenge Series titles in the same year? Significantly her name appears on the entry list for the forthcoming 2019 ITTF Challenge Series Polish Open, play starts with qualification in Wladslawowo on Wednesday 16th October.
No player has won five ITTF Challenge Series women’s singles tournaments in the same year and only one has ever achieved the feat on the ITTF World Tour; in 2003, China’s redoubtable Zhang Yining won in Aarhus, Bremen, Guangzhou, Malmö and Zagreb.
Hina Hayata treads in illustrious shoes.