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Seizing the opportunity, the filly in Philly

Friday 16 October

Seizing the opportunity, the filly in Philly

A major opportunity, the chance of a first, such is the scenario at the forthcoming Dishang Group 2020 ITTF Women’s World Cup which commences on Sunday 8th November.

No previous winner of the event, no previous women’s singles world champion, no Olympic Games gold medallist, is named on the entry list.

In the history of the tournament, first staged in 1996 in Hong Kong, it is only the second time that such a situation has occurred; the only other occasion was when the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup was held for the first time on the American continent.

Philadelphia was the home; the winner, Japan’s 16 year old Miu Hirano.

Moreover it was very much success against the odds. We knew of the teenager and particularly her exploits with colleague, Mima Ito. Most notably they had won the women’s doubles at the 2014 ITTF World Tour German Open in Magdeburg and thus, both being only 13 years old at the time, wrote their names indelibly in the Guinness Book of Records. However, did we really expect gold in a world title event?

Simply if there is such a phenomenon as “in the zone”, without doubt in the city known to the inhabitants of the United States as “Philly”, the filly (the colloquial name for a young girl) was very much in the zone.

Not only did she become the youngest ever winner but she succeeded without ever being extended the full seven games distance.

In fact, the toughest opponent proved to be the very first; they do say the opening match can be the hardest of all and so it proved. She needed six games to overcome Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, before in the next round dropping her one and only further game by overcoming colleague, Mima Ito.

Perhaps that result was not a surprise; obviously they were well known to each other but Miu Hirano entered the engagement with an air of confidence. The previous year she had beaten Mima Ito in the final of the under 21 women’s singles event at the ITTF World Tour 2015 Spanish Open. It’s a shivering thought but both are still eligible for that age group in 2021!

A semi-final place booked, Miu Hirano most certainly caused a major upset. She overcame Singapore’s Feng Tianwei, the bronze medallist in 2008 in Kuala Lumpur and 2013 in Kobe, in straight games to book her place in the final.

She had accounted for her more senior adversary at breakneck speed; in the final against Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, she did exactly the same, she gave a somewhat bewildered opponent no time to breathe; straight games was the order of proceedings (11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8).

Now in 2020 who can claim a first women’s singles success at a world title event?

Whoever that may be will smile broadly but no-one will match the message from the smile of Miu Hirano in 2016, totally innocent it was one of “that was a fun afternoon”, good fun.


Editor: Ian Marshall

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