by Kabir Nagpal
Overall, for Maki Shiomi is was the fifth time she had won an under 21 women’s singles title at an open international tournament.
Competing on the ITTF World Tour, she won in 2017 in China; at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments in 2019 in Paraguay, earlier this year in Spain and Portugal.
In a tale of mixed emotions for the top seeds, the fans were entertained with contrasting fortunes for the favourites.
Maki Shiomi faced a fierce challenge at the start of final against Spain’s Sofia-Xuan Zhang She started the match with an intense battle taking the first game to a 26-point thriller.
However, Shiomi came out on top by staying on course, and finally gaining the better of her European opponent, winning 3-1 (14-12, 5-11, 11-6, 11-7) in just under half an hour. Zhang had been very prominent in her forehand attacks throughout the four games – one of which led her winning the second game and cause the Asian a momentary doubt.
In the end, Shiomi used her patient play to the best possible manner, assuring herself the gold once she moved past the the third game in confidence.
In the under 21 men’s singles final, it was a domestic upset as the two Indian youths were facing each other in a strong tournament for both.
The title favourite, Manav Vikash Thakkar, could not register a game in the final as he lost out to teammate Jeet Chandra in straight games (11-6, 11-7, 13-11).
Taking Chandra all of 25 minutes – whose first name incidentally translates to ‘victory’ – it was a seal on a good performance throughout the week for the 20 year old in Muscat. The biggest factor in his favour was the 20-points he won on his serve against Thakkar, meaning he was in control of the match from the start.