TABLE TENNIS TIDBITS # 41 By Robert Ho 5-22-18
Teens and Twenties Triumph
Sons of a Filipino mother and a Japanese father and rising stars in Japan are 21 year old Kazuhiro Yoshimura, and 24 year old Maharu Yoshimura. Kazuhiro won successively over Oshima (Japan), Ruwen (Germany), Lee (S. Korea), Lim (S. Korea), and Cho (S. Korea) in the final at the Hongkong Open (5-24—27-18). Kazuhiro had to go through qualifying rounds to enter the main draw. Maharu lost in 7 to Cho in the quarters.
Kazuhiro plays a very aggressive, one could say high risk game, and is very effective using his serves. When he erred, he appeared not to be overly affected, nor extravagantly effusive when he scored a point. He was both confident and competent against Ruwen, the only chopper he faced. On the other hand Ruwen was visibly perturbed by the superb play of Kazuhiro and was visibly frustrated over the progress of the match during his between-games conferences with his coach (?)/confidant. Against the attacking players, Kazuhiro seemed just a little quicker in reacting and his responses were more often effective than not.
At this same tournament, Wang Man Yu of China won the anticlimactic Women’s Final over teammate Chen Xing Tong 4-1. But the “thrilla in Manila” was the semifinal between Wang (age 19) and Mima Ito (age 17) of Japan. It seemed initially Ito was more likely going to be a finalist than Wang. Both right handers use inverted rubber on the FH; on the BH Wang uses inverted; Ito: short pips. Ito appears quicker than her opponent which facilitates her “flat hitting on both wings” whereas Wang emphasizes more spin and seems slightly slower in reaction than Ito. Ito occasionally uses an outside-in BH hit. She wins the first 2 games at 8 and 5 with sharply angled flat hitting. Wang’s responses are frequently tardy and part of the problem is adjusting to the flatter trajectory and lesser spin of Ito’s thrusts.
Responding to the situation in game 3, instead of standing outside her BH corner for her FH serve (her usual practice), Wang starts inside her BH corner and even at mid table for her serve; although she had been receiving serve from inside her BH corner, she moves toward the middle of the table for service reception. These adjustments seemed to curtail the sharply angled hitting of Ito and facilitated Wang’s topspin attack and Wang wins the 3rd at 9.
In game 4, Wang begins her serve more frequently again from outside her BH corner; it’s a “neck and neck” game but an Ito “edge” makes it 8-7 Ito, and a “net” makes it 9-8 Ito; during the “net” Wang stumbles onto the floor desperately trying to return the ball. Ito wins this game at 9; one more win puts her in the final.
Although she lost the “squeaker” of a 4th game, apparently Wang had adjusted to her opponent’s game and begins her serves from outside her BH corner again. Her attack is now more consistent and effective than it was in the first 2 games and she wins the last 3 games at 6, 5, and 10 to put her in the final—a successful collaboration between her and her coach to evoke light from a dark start.
That Wang retained her “lesson learned” against Ito was manifested in her 4-2 dominating win against Ito in the China Open (5-31—6-3-18) which led to a 4-3 win against World Champion teammate Ding Ning in the final.
In this tournament Fan Zhen Dong played so aggressively against Niwa Koki of Japan that Fan was making most of the points for both contestants. When Fan’s shots “went in” he won a point; when he erred, Niwa got the point. Because Fan made more than he missed, he won.
Fan played successfully in the same manner against teammate Lin Guo Yan who was more of a challenge than Koki. It seemed Fan was being far more aggressive than needed to win against Niwa and Lin when the reason finally dawned on me: he was preparing for the final against teammate and World Champion Ma Long. Indeed Fan’s great effort fell short against Ma who won 4-1.