08 Dec 2019

Qualified for the women’s singles event at the forthcoming Agricultural Bank of China 2019 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals in Zhengzhou; the Japanese trio comprising Kasumi Ishikawa, Miu Hirano and Hitomi Sato, the respective top three seeds, all booked semi-final places at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Benemax-Virgo North American Open in Markham, following success on Saturday 7th December.

Similarly, there was progress for colleague Miyu Kato, the no.4 seed; thus guaranteeing the Land of the Rising Sun every step of the podium.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Most impressive member of the quartet was Kasumi Ishikawa, she halted Chinese progress in no uncertain fashion.

She recorded a straight games third round win against Zhang Qiang, the no.27 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-9, 11-9), before securing quarter-final success when facing qualifier, Wang Xiaotong. In a similar manner there was no hint of charity, an imposing performance was the order of the day (11-3, 11-6, 13-11, 11-6).

Somewhat differently for her colleagues, their were tense moments; especially for Miu Hirano and Hitomi Sato. After accounting for Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.9 seed (11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-9), Miu Hirano needed the full seven games to overcome the defensive skills of compatriot Honoka Hashimoto, the no.8 seed. Eventually, she emerged successful by the minimal two point margin in the decider (10-12, 11-6, 4-11, 11-8, 10-12, 11-6, 11-9).

A command performance from Kasumi Ishikawa (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)
Tense moments

Similarly, in round three there were tense moments for Hitomi Sato; she needed all seven games to end the progress of Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, the no.13 seed (9-11, 11-9, 9-11, 11-6, 11-13, 11-7, 11-7). A quarter-final place booked, facing Germany’s Nina Mittelham, life was equally fraught; the 21 year old was extended to six games (11-9, 10-12, 6-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-4).

Six games required to reserve a last four place, it was the same for Miyu Kato; facing Chinese qualifiers, she beat Leng Yutong (6-11, 11-5, 11-1, 13-11, 11-6), prior to ousting Li Jiayi (13-11, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 12-10).

At the semi-final stage Kasumi Ishikawa meets Miyu Kato, Miu Hirano opposes Hitomi Sato.

Nina Mittelham suffered a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Hitomi Sato (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)
Good news for Slovakia

Similarly, there was positive news for Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, like the Japanese trio, Zhengzhou bound.

Top seeds in the mixed doubles event, status was justified; at the semi-final stage they accounted for India’s Sharath Kamal Achanta and Manika Batra, the no.3 seeds (8-11, 10-12, 11-3, 11-6, 11-3), prior to securing the title at the final expense of China’s Zhao Zhaoyuan and Liu Xi (11-5, 3-11, 11-7, 11-2).

Not seeded, in the penultimate round Zhao Zhaoyuan and Liu Xi  had also caused India heartache; they ended the hopes of fellow qualifiers Manav Vikash Thakkar and Archana Girish Kamath (11-9, 11-7, 15-13).

Barbora Balazova (left) and (right) Lubomir Pistej, totally focused (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)
Qualifiers reach semi-finals

China in evidence, it was the same in the men’s singles; not seeded, both Xiang Peng and Zhou Kai reserved semi-final places. Xiang Peng beat colleague, Liu Yebo, also a qualifier (9-11, 11-8, 9-11, 11-4, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6), before ousting India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.25 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-6, 1-11, 4-11, 11-7).

Hard earned, it was very much the same for Zhou Kai. He found pen-hold grip compatriots very much to his liking. He beat Xue Fei, the no.27 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 8-11, 8-11, 3-11, 11-6), prior to emerging the victor in opposition to Xu Haidong (13-11, 2-11, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-5). Notably one round earlier, Xu Haidong had ousted Japan’s Maharu Yoshimura, the no.4 seed (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 5-11, 8-11, 6-11, 12-10).

Xiang Peng beat Manav Vikash Thakkar to secure his semi-final place (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)
European success

Progress for China, there was also progress for Europe, Frenchman Can Akkuzu and Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic both reserved penultimate round places.

Can Akkuzu, the no.7 seed, recorded a third round win against Hungary’s Bence Majoros, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-5, 11-8, 11-8), prior to posting a quarter-final win in opposition to qualifier, China’s Zhao Zhaoyuan (11-5, 10-12, 11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 8-11, 11-5).

Good form from Can Akkuzu it was the same from Darko Jorgic, the no.5 seed and highest ranked player remaining. He beat qualifier, Jules Rolland, like Can Akkuzu from France (11-4, 11-5, 11-7, 11-6), prior to reserving his penultimate round place courtesy of success when facing the host nation’s Eugene Wang, the no.31 seed (11-6, 5-11, 3-11, 11-7, 14-12, 11-9).

An all European final, an all Chinese final or will it be a combination of both? At the semi-final stage Can Akkuzu meets Zhou Kai; Darko Jorgic opposes Xiang Peng.

Darko Jorgic ended the hopes of the host nation, at the quarter-final stage he beat Eugene Wang (Photo: Rémy Gros)
Disappointment for France

Success for Can Akkuzu in the men’s singles event but in the men’s doubles it was disappointment. Partnering colleague, Emmanuel Lebesson, the no.3 seeds, after ousting Feng Yijun and Zhang Kai of the United States (11-8, 9-11, 11-7, 11-5), they experienced defeat at the hands of Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (11-6, 5-11, 15-13, 8-11, 11-7).

The quarter-final winners in opposition to Hungary’s Tamas Lakatos and Bence Majoros, the no.7 seeds (11-6, 11-8, 11-1); in the final the Belgian duo confronts China’s Cao Wei and Xu Yingbin. They reserved their place in the title decider by ousting Brazil’s Eric Jouti and Thiago Monteiro, the no.2 seeds (11-4, 11-4, 11-7) followed by success in opposition to Argentina’s Horacio Cifuentes and Santiago Lorenzo, the no.5 seeds (11-6, 11-5, 11-7).

A semi-final defeat for Horacio Cifuentes (left) and (right) Santiago Lorenzo but a most creditable finish (Photo: courtesy of Matt Hetherington)
Top seeds reach final

A place in the final for the top seeds, it was exactly the same in the women’s doubles; following success against Russia’s Yana Noskova and Olga Vorobeva, the no.5 seeds (11-8, 11-7, 11-9), Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato accounted for India’s Manika Batra and Archana Girish Kamath, the no.4 seeds (11-2, 11-5, 11-4).

In the final, the Chinese combination of Che Xiaoxi and Li Jiayi awaits; not seeded, they claimed a quarter-final success against colleagues Liu Xi and Zhang Qiang (11-8, 11-8, 11-8), prior to ousting the combination of Barbora Balazova and the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, the no.2 seeds (11-7, 13-11, 11-8).

A semi-final women’s doubles exit for Manika Batra in partnership with Archana Girish Kamath (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)
Titles decided

Success for the top seeds but there was also defeat. Japan’s Maki Shiomi had to settle for runners up spot in the under 21 women’s singles event; she was beaten by Wang Xiaotong (11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7).

Meanwhile, in the counterpart under 21 men’s singles competition, India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar emerged victorious. The no.2 seed, in the title decider he beat Argentina’s Martin Bentancor, the no.14 seed (11-3, 11-5, 11-6).

It was for both Wang Xiaotong and Manav Vikash Thakkar their first ever title of any kind at either an ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series tournament.

Wang Xiaotong, the under 21 women’s singles winner (Photo: Thorsten Gohl)


Play in Markham concludes on Sunday 8th December.

Challenge Series 2019 North America Kasumi Ishikawa Miu Hirano Hitomi Sato Miyu Kato

No results found.

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Day 3 - 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Benemax-Virgo North American Open