SEAMASTER 2019 ITTF WORLD TOUR CROATIA OPEN
Saturday 18th May
Youngest ever, Miyuu Kihara record breaker
Miyuu Kihara emerged the most successful player when proceedings closed in Zagreb on Saturday 18th May at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Croatia Open.
After earlier in the day partnering colleague Miyu Nagasaki to women’s doubles gold, she emerged the women’s singles champion. Thus at the age of 14 years and 278 days, she became the youngest ever to secure two titles on the concluding day of action at an opening international tournament, since the ITTF World Tour began in 1996.
Colleague Mima Ito remains the youngest to win a women’s singles title; she was 14 years and 153 days old when she won at the 2015 ITTF World Tour German Open on Sunday 22nd March.
In an event dominated by Japan, they provided all four women’s singles semi-finalists, Miyuu Kihara, the no.19 seed, excelled. After recording a quarter-final success against Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.7 seed (13-11, 11-6, 12-10, 12-10) and a penultimate round victory in opposition to Miyu Nagasaki, the no.18 seed (8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6, 11-6, 12-10), she accounted for Miyu Kato, the no.5 seed (13-11, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 12-10, 5-11, 11-8) to secure to top step of the podium.
Notably in the opposite half of the draw, prior to a penultimate round success against Satsuki Odo, the no.14 seed (11-8, 17-15, 9-11, 7-11, 11-5, 11-9), Miyu Kato had ousted colleague and defending champion, Saki Shibata, the no.2 seed (11-9, 9-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-4).
Gold for Miyuu Kihara earlier on the concluding afternoon of play it had been women’s doubles gold; the no.5 seeds, they beat compatriots Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds, to seal the title (11-5, 14-12, 7-11, 11-8). The win meant that they repeated the feat of one week earlier when they had won in Slovenia; for Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, they fell just one step short of winning three times in a row in Croatia and thus one step short of history. No women’s doubles pair has won in three consecutive years at the same open international tournament since the ITTF World Tour commenced.
The women’s doubles title in the hands of Japan, soon after the men’s doubles title was clinched by the Land of the Rising Sun; against the odds, Shunsuke Togami and Yukiya Uda, required to compete in the qualification tournament, emerged the victors. Having the previous day accounted for Brazil’s Eric Jouti and Gustavo Tsuboi, the no.2 seeds (12-10, 11-8, 12-10) followed by success in opposition to Germany’s Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang, the no.4 seeds (11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8), they beat Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (11-9, 10-12, 11-9, 3-11, 11-8) to secure the top step of the podium.
Thus Yukiya Uda secured gold for the second time in the tournament. Two days earlier, the no.2 seed, he had won the under 21 men’s singles title beating Kanak Jha of the United States, the no.9 seed, in the final (6-11, 11-6, 11-9, 11-7); the success coming at the same time colleague Yumeno Soma, the top seed, had to settle for silver in the counterpart under 21 women’s singles final. She was beaten by the host nation’s Sun Jiayi (6-11, 11-3, 11-4, 11-8).
Titles for Japan; in the men’s singles event, it was the top prize for Sweden. Anton Källberg upset the order of merit; the no.32 and lowest seed, at the semi-final stage he beat Chinese Taipei’s Chuang Chih-Yuan, the top seed (11-3, 4-11, 11-3, 4-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-5), before overcoming colleague Kristian Karlsson, the no.2 seed (11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-5) to secure gold.
Overall, for Japan a most successful visit to Zagreb, a capital performance; moreover, it was a record breaking performance.
By Ian Marshall, Editor
Photos Credit – ITTF/Robert Valai