Table Tennis: Japanese 13-year-olds make history at German Open
- Updated: March 31, 2014
March 31, 2014: Japanese starlets Miu Hirano and Mima Ito, both just 13 years old, became the youngest-ever doubles winners on the ITTF World Tour with a 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-7) victory over fourth-seeded Poles Katarzyna Grzybowska and Natalia Partyka at the German Open in Madgeburg on Sunday.
Ito became the youngest-ever winner of an ITTF World Tour title, while Hirano is the third. Ito was 13 years 160 days old on Sunday, so surpassed the achievement of China’s Guo Yue, who was 13 years and 224 days when she won the women’s doubles at the 2002 Austrian Open in Wels. Hirano was 13 years and 350 days old.
“We have been training together since we were four years old and this is our first title on the World Tour. We trained hard so we deserve it,” Ito said. “We are very happy winning this big title and being the youngest ever players to do so, but we are not satisfied. We want to keep on winning titles.”
The determined Ito admitted that the 2016 Olympics in Rio was a major goal, while Ito will still only be 19 at Tokyo 2020. Interestingly, either could play in an Olympic Games before they compete in a Youth Olympic Games, as both are too young to compete at Nanjing 2014.
“Our next goal is to play at a World Championships. We want to keep on playing against high-ranked players,” she continued. “Our dream is to play in the Olympics and we want to play in Tokyo in 2020, but we will try to get to Rio 2016 first.”
Hirano was concerned with how they would spend their prize money and also paid tribute to their opponents.
“We can’t believe that we have won US$5,000. We are going to buy a treat for ourselves and presents for our parents, friends and coaches,” Miu said. “It was good to play against Natalia Partyka. Even though she has a disability she is an amazing player.”
Partyka, a para table tennis star, said the young Japanese victors were deserving champions on the day.
“They played really well. They served and received extremely well, which was the key for them, and they were just too quick,” Partyka said. “We were nervous going into the match, so we did not have a good start and we never recovered. They were simply better and deserved the victory.”
China’s Lyu Xiang and Wang Hao won the men’s doubles by beating reigning European champions Tan Ruiwu of Croatia and Wang Zengyi of Poland, 4-1 (13-11, 10-12, 11-4, 11-2).
Hosts Germany celebrated victory in the singles, with second seed Dimitrij Ovtcharov edging sixth seed Jun Mizutani of Japan 4-3 (11-9, 5-11, 9-11, 11-5, 6-11, 11-2, 11-9) for his fifth World Tour title.
Germany’s Shan Xiaona, the 13th seed, won the women’s title with a 4-0 (18-16, 11-3, 11-4, 11-5) win over top seed Seo Hyo-won of Korea. The next stop on the World Tour is the Spanish Open, which begins on Wednesday in Almeria.
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