04 Feb 2020

An ever increasing array of talent, the reservoir ever deeper; on the opening day of qualification, Tuesday 4th February, at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open in Granada, another name joined the illustrious list of Japanese female players born this century.

Yura Shinohara, only 13 years old, was the player to attract the attention and leave those in the know somewhat opened mouthed as a result of her exploits.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A quarter-finalist just under one year ago in the junior girls’ singles event on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in the Czech Republic; on her debut on the senior international scene, the young lady from the Land of the Rising Sun shone above all others.

In her opening match of the day, she beat Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, bronze medallist in the women’s singles event at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, before accounting for the host nation’s Ana Maria Vertiz.

Moreover, she prevailed without a blemish; she accounted for Andreea Dragoman in three straight games (11-9, 11-9, 11-6), before handing out the same punishment when facing Ana Maria Vertiz (11-7, 11-5, 11-4).

Odds on favourite

A place in the main draw is odds on. Players finishing in first and second positions in each of the 16 groups advance to the knock-out stage. In the concluding group stage match she needs to win just one game against Denmark’s Stefanie Christensen to secure top spot.

After beating Ana Maria Vertiz (11-4, 11-5, 11-8), Stefanie Christensen experienced defeat at the hands of Andreea Dragoman (11-5, 11-6, 12-10).

Celebrated footsteps

One wonders what riches lay in store as she follows the trend current trend set by Mima Ito, now the main challenger to Chinese excellence; she was only 10 years old when she won the junior girls’ singles title at the Chinese Taipei Junior and Cadet Open.

Soon Miu Hirano followed, partnering Mima Ito to women’s doubles success on the 2014 ITTF World Tour in Germany, both 13 years old at the time, as a result of their efforts, they gained a place in the Guinness Book of Record. Later in 2016, Miu Hirano, when 16 years old, won the Uncle Pop Women’s World Cup title in Philadelphia, before securing gold the following year at the 2017 Asian Championships.

Also a third member of the 2000 born group, Hina Hayata has six ITTF Challenge Series titles to her name; a most talented and exciting trio.

More names

Now, add the list Miyu Nagasaki, only 17 years old, in 2019 crowned both Asian and World Junior champion, as well as Miyuu Kihara, 15 years old. She partnered Miyu Nagasaki to women’s doubles gold at the Agricultural Bank of China 2019 Grand Finals, having earlier won the women’s singles title at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open.

Furthermore, don’t forget Satsuki Odo, like Miyuu Kihara only 15 years old, five ITTF Challenge Series women’s doubles titles in partnership with Saki Shibata. Add the even younger Haruna Ojio, 14 years of age, the player Miyu Nagasaki beat in in the girls’ singles final last December at the World Junior Championships; the order of teenage excellence goes on and on.

Think back

One more, don’t forget the now retired Ai Fukuhara, she started playing table tennis in 1991 when only three years old; she was a member of the Japanese women’s team that won silver at the London 2012 Olympic Games and bronze four years later in Rio de Janeiro.

Yura Shinohara, welcome to the club; you are in good company.

Challenge Series 2020 Spanish Open Yura Shinohara

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Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open