by Ian Marshall, Editor
Much depended for Japan in the girls’ team final on the shoulders of Miyu Nagasaki, crowned Asian junior champion in early September and on this year’s ITTF World Tour, the winner in both Japan and Sweden when facing China’s Zhu Yuling.
In the opening match of the engagement, after securing the opening two games, she was beaten in five games by Shi Xunyao (11-13, 9-11, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8). Alas for Japan, Miyu Nagasaki was not able to repeat the performance of the 2017 girls’ team final in Riva de Garda when in a 3-1 defeat, as today at the hands of China, she had beaten Shi Xunyao (11-9, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6) in the third match of the final.
Success for Shi Xunyao was followed by success for Kuai Man against Kyoka Idesawa (13-11, 11-13, 11-6, 11-6), before Miyuu Kihara entered the fray to give Japan hope. She beat Chen Yi (11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7). The win was not to signal a major recovery; Shi Xunyao returned to the action, she overcame Kyoka Idesawa in four games to seal the title (10-12, 14-12, 11-7, 11-8).
A hard fought success, not one of the four matches decided in straight games, the boys’ team final was totally different; every match was determined in straight games.
Xiang Peng, who the previous day had been the hero of the hour, when beating Shunsuke Togami in the vital fifth and deciding match against Japan (13-11, 13-11, 9-11, 9-11, 11-9), gave China the perfect start by overcoming Feng Yi-Hsin (11-9, 11-8, 11-7). He was followed by Xu Yingbin who accounted for Tai Ming-Wei and Liu Yebo who overcame Huang Yan-Cheng (11-6, 11-7, 11-9).
Very much Xu Yingbin and Shi Xunyao were key players, both having experienced the bitter pill of team defeat, a rarity for China. In Cape Town in 2016, alongside Xu Haidong and Yu Heyi; Xu Yingbin was a member the team that experienced a boys’ team semi-final defeat at the hands of Korea Republic’s Cho Seungmin, An Jaehyun and Kim Daewoo. It is the only occasion when China has not reached the boys’ team final.
Meanwhile, also in Cape Town, joining forces with Liu Weishan and Sun Yizhen, it was defeat in the girls’ team final for Shi Xunyao; a 3-1 reverse when opposing Japan’s Hina Hayata, Miu Hirano and Mima Ito.
Only one previous occasion
Notably, the only other occasions when China has experienced team defeat came in 2005 in Linz and 2010 Bratislava.
Now 14 years ago, in 2005, the boys’ trio comprising Liu Maio, Yang Ce and Fang Li experienced a 3-1 defeat in the final when opposing Japan’s Jun Mizutani, Seiya Kishikawa and Taku Takakiwa.
Later in 2010 in Bratislava, once again Japan proved the nemesis. Kasumi Ishikawa, Misaki Morizono and Ayuka Tanioka recorded a 3-1 win in the final when opposing Gu Yuting, Yi Fangxian and Zhu Yuling.
Since the tournament was first staged in the Chilean capital city of Santiago in 2003, China has now won each of the boys’ team and girls’ team titles oxn 15 of the 17 editions.