2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Benemax-Virgo North American Open
Wednesday 4th to Sunday 8th December
China and Japan dominant in Markham
A long journey but the outcome most worthwhile, China and Japan emerged the dominant forces at the 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus Benemax-Virgo North American Open staged in the Greater Toronto city of Markham from Wednesday 4th to Sunday 8th December.
Xiang Peng, Cao Wei, Xu Yingbin and Wang Xiaotong flew the flag for China; for Japan, Kasumi Ishikawa, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato brought honour to the Land of the Rising Sun.
Crowned world junior champion one week earlier at the other side of the world in Thailand, Xiang Peng won the men’s singles title, his first at an open international tournament.
Required to qualify, in the later rounds he beat India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.25 seed (11-7, 11-4, 11-6, 1-11, 4-11, 11-7), followed by success against Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic, the no.5 seed (11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 11-7, 10-12, 11-6) to reserve his place in the final where the good form continued. He overcame Frenchman Can Akkuzu, the no.7 seed, to secure the title (8-11, 11-5, 11-7, 11-8, 12-14, 11-6).
Success for Xiang Peng brought the tournament to a close; the win coming immediately after Kasumi Ishikawa had secured the women’s singles title, an event in which the top four seeds, all from Japan, reached the semi-finals.
In the penultimate round, Kasumi Ishikawa, the top seed, beat Miyu Kato, the no.4 seed (13-11, 11-8, 11-7, 7-11, 6-11, 12-10), prior to overcoming Miu Hirano, the no.2 seed, in the final (11-9, 11-8, 1-11, 14-12, 6-11, 12-10). In the counterpart semi-final, Miu Hirano had accounted for Hitomi Sato, the no.3 seed (11-4, 9-11, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8, 11-7).
Honours shared in the men’s singles and women’s singles events; it was the same in the men’s doubles and women’s doubles. In the former, Cao Wei and Xu Yingbin, the no.6 seeds, secured the title at the expense of Belgium’s Martin Allegro and Florent Lambiet, the top seeds (7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7). Defeat for the top seeds, in the women’s doubles final it was success for the leading pair. Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato beat China’s Che Xiaoxi and Li Jiayi (11-6, 11-3, 11-4).
Gold and silver for China on the concluding day of play, it was the same on the penultimate day.
Wang Xiaotong, the no.21 seed, beat Japan’s Maki Shiomi, the top seed (11-7, 11-7, 9-11, 11-7) to arrest the under 21 women’s singles title. Conversely, Zhao Zhaoyan and Liu Xi experienced defeat in the mixed doubles title decider; not seeded, they were beaten by Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova, the top seeds (11-5, 3-11, 11-7, 11-2).
Defeat for Zhao Zhaoyan and Liu Xi but it was the only title to elude Asian hands; India’s Manav Vikash Thakkar, the no.2 seed, accounted for Argentina’s Martin Bentancor (11-3, 11-5, 11-6) to be crowned under 21 men’s singles champion.
Editor: Ian Marshall