29 Nov 2019

Present in every match in the team events, on duty in the individual competitions, when play concluded on Friday 29th November, after six days of action at the NSDF 2019 ITTF World Junior Championships in Korat, China’s Xu Yingbin and Shi Xunyao remained unbeaten.

Most creditable but they do not stand alone; there is one more member of the club and the fact she is hitherto unbeaten, as the penultimate day approaches, is even more remarkable; step forward Japan’s Miyuu Kihara.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Both Xu Yingbin and Shi Xunyao are 18 years old, they are in their last year in the junior ranks; Miyuu Kihara is only 15 years of age, she is still in the cadet age group. She is eligible to compete in the 2022 World Junior Championships.

In the junior girls’ team event, in each fixture, for Miyuu Kihara it was one match played, one match won. Opening the campaign, a 3-1 quarter-final win against the United States was the outcome, she beat Crystal Wang (11-6, 11-6, 11-8); then against Chinese Taipei in a 3-0 penultimate round success, she accounted for Yu Hsui-Ting (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-13, 11-3).

A place in the final reserved, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of China was the outcome, Miyuu Kihara was the one winner; in the third match of the engagement she beat Chen Yi (11-3, 9-11, 11-3, 11-7).

Significant result

Now that is the significant result. Earlier this year in September, Chen Yi won the cadet girls’ singles title at the Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Ulaanbaator; presently she stands in top spot on the Under 15 Girls’ World Rankings.

Chen Yi and Miyuu Kihara are both of the same age, both born in August 2004, Miyuu Kihara is the elder by 21 days. However, in recent times Miyuu Kihara has not competed in cadet events; therefore her name does not appear on the Under 15 Girls’ World Rankings but is she the best female player in the age group?

Success at senior level

Consider her performances this year, there is plenty of evidence to support the claim. At ITTF Challenge Series tournaments, she won the women’s singles title in Croatia, in Belarus she was a semi-finalist in both the women’s singles and under 21 women’s singles events.

Furthermore, she has formed a prodigious women’s doubles partnership with colleague Miyu Nagasaki.

At ITTF Challenge Series tournaments they won in Croatia and Slovenia; on the ITTF World Tour they were semi-finalists in Australia, Japan and Hong Kong, runners up in Germany and most recently winners in Austria. The end result they finished the year in top spot on the ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles Standings!

On course

In Korat they are together again and are very much on course to add to their list of titles. Success against Singapore’s Goi Rui Xuan and Zhou Jing (11-2, 11-4, 11-7) followed by an equally impressive victory in opposition to Egypt’s Sarah Elhakem and Hend Fathy (11-3, 11-5, 11-2) has secured a quarter-final place.

One step away from a medal, in the mixed doubles a medal is assured. Partnering colleague Yukiya Uda, the duo accounted for the combination of Peru’s Felipe Duffoo and Poland’s Iona Szwiertna (11-1, 11-5, 11-7), prior to overcoming Singapore’s Dominic Koh Song Jun and Zhou Jingyi (11-8, 11-7, 11-3). A place in the quarter-finals reserved, they ousted the pairing formed by Croatia’s Ivor Ban and Lithuania’s Kornelija Riliskyte (11-8, 11-5, 11-4).

Required to qualify

Busy times for Miyuu Kihara and remember, she was required to compete in the girls’ singles qualification stage. Impressively she finished ahead of Kornelija Riliskyte, Rachel Yang of the United States and Charlotte Lutz of France.

Considering the level of the competition in Korat, whatever the last two days may hold, it is one of the most remarkable performances in the now 17 year history of the World Junior Championships; simply outstanding.

World Junior Championships 2019 World Junior Championships Miyuu Kihara

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Day 8 - NDSF 2019 ITTF World Junior Championships