Pictured: Lin Ying Xiang (AUS) and Takahashi Koo (JPN). Photo credit: Marthin Nanere
25 players from Japan have travelled to compete in this week’s YONEX Bendigo International 2022. Their contingent consists of recent junior national team players and skilled players in their mid-twenties who train with ‘Jtekt Act Saikyo’ – one of the top clubs in Japan.
Japan’s team manager, Masuda Keita, places their club among an elite five. Typically, Jtekt Act Saikyo’s players are ranked below 100 in the world and identify International Challenge tournaments as the most appropriate and realistic choices to enter, compete and accrue ranking points to climb the ladder.
The higher ranked clubs in Japan include their nation’s top performing athletes who would qualify and play in the HSBC World Tour tournaments. This is part of the long-term goal for the players in Bendigo.
“Our players are very competitive. They fight for every single point. The players ages range from 19 – 25 and for many of them, the LA 2028 Olympic Games is the realistic and achievable goal”, says Masuda.
Before departing for Bendigo, they took part in an intensive training camp to prepare for competition and their hard work is already paying off. By the evening of day one, not a single player from their team has lost a match.
The biggest threat so far came from Australia’s Lin Ying Xiang who took the 11th seed Takahashi Koo to a third, deciding game. Another player, Manami Suizu, caused a huge upset on day one as she ousted one of the top seeds in the women’s singles, Australia’s Wendy Chen, in two comfortable games.
- Manami Suizu (JPN) vs Hsuan-Yu Wendy Chen (AUS) 21-8 21-13
- Takahashi Koo (JPN) vs Lin Ying Xiang (AUS) 21-8 19-21 21-14
If these results are anything to go by, the team remains firmly on track to meet Masuda’s ultimate goal in Bendigo:
“We want to get as many players as we can through to the semifinals in this tournament”, says Masuda.
The YONEX Bendigo International 2022 takes place at the Red Energy Arena Bendigo from Wednesday 12 – Sunday 16 October 2022.