by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
(Photo: Bruce H. Liu)
Miu Hirano writes history, wins Seamaster Women’s World Cup
Acclimatising and relishing in the occasion, Japan’s Miu Hirano secured the Seamaster 2016 Women’s World Cup title in Philadelphia on the evening of Sunday 9th October; the no.5 seed, she accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Cheng I-Ching, the no.2 seed, at the final hurdle in a most impressive manner.
She won in four straight games (11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8) and in so doing created a series of firsts.
Impressively, she became the youngest player ever to win the title, the first player not from China and she succeeded at her first attempt.
It was for both players the biggest occasion of their young careers; for Cheng I-Ching she had never progressed beyond the opening round in her two previous Women’s World Cup appearances, for Miu Hirano it was her debut.
However, the experience factor did lie in the hands of Cheng I-Ching; she had been pivotal to Chinese Taipei’s bronze medal success at the Perfect 2016 World Team Championships in Kuala Lumpur earlier in the year.
Also, she had competed in the recent Rio 2016 Olympic Games; in both events Miu Hirano had been on reverse duty, looking forward to competing on the big stage, the very big stage.
In Philadelphia, she underlined the fact that the big stage is very much her scene; a clench of the fist of her left hand when winning a point, Miu Hirano secured the first two games.
She was the more positive player, equally effective from both backhand and forehand when delivering the first attack.
Focused, seemingly most comfortable in the splendid surroundings of the Liacouras Center, she won the first three games before establishing a 6-4 lead in the fourth.
Finding life difficult and struggling to match the speed of Miu Hirano, being very much in the passive role, Cheng I-Ching called “Time Out”.
At 10-6, Miu Hirano held four match points, for championship points; Cheng I-Ching won the next two points. Miu Hirano called “Time Out”.
On this occasion the break one again proved fruitful for Miu Hirano. She won the next point, raised her left arm in the air in delight, the prestigious title was secured; history was written in Philadelphia.