NTT East gets maiden double title in Japan league

The last day of Badminton Nippon League was held at Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium in Tokyo on Sunday.  NTT East came on top in both the women’s and men’s team competitions […]

The last day of Badminton Nippon League was held at Yoyogi 2nd Gymnasium in Tokyo on Sunday.  NTT East came on top in both the women’s and men’s team competitions for the first time in their history.

Story and photos by Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondent live in Tokyo

There are many company teams and badminton clubs in Japan.  Most of them are enjoying the sport for fitness or fun but the top league is different.  The companies gather talented players, many of them team members, and employ them after they graduate from school to carry the company’s banner in domestic events like the team league.

Players do more than just badminton training.  As national team players also acquire the skills for their jobs a few hours a day, they get to interact with coworkers who then come to cheer for them when they play.  This adds a little motivation to the teams to win in front of their supporters. Each tie features two doubles matches and one singles match.

NTT East men’s team wins without Tago

Coming into the finale of the 2014 edition, Unisys was defending champion but that team had lost to the Tricky Panders in November.  The latter may not have any national members, but it did feature Ryao Ming Chun (pictured below left) from Taiwan, who, together with his partner, defeated Japan’s No. 1 pair Hayakawa/Endo in the first doubles which led to the Tricky Panders’ final win over Unisys.  Yet Unisys had a chance to keep their title if they could beat NTT East on Saturday.

But NTT East was strong this time.  World #13 (pictured top, holding trophy) in men’s singles and Ohkoshi/Hoshino in doubles had won all of their matches against the best the other companies could field against them.  Their wins paved the way for their team to win giving  NTT East the league title it last held in 2008.

“Our company team has great teamwork and could focus on our goal with all team members,”  said Momota in the press conference.

Momota’s team-mates added: “We believed Momota could win against his opponents from all other companies so we were able to play with confidence.”

Kenichi Tago is also part of NTT East and in the past had helped his team win crucial points not only in singles but also in doubles.  But this time, he wasn’t featured at all.  He explained to Badzine: “I believed that Momota is stronger compared with other teams’ singles players so I was able to pass the baton to him to lead the team.  Our doubles members have also made good results recently.  I had confidence that they could win this time.”

First title for NTT East women’s team

Defending champion Unisys and last year’s runner up Renesas were scheduled to play each other on the last day of the league.  But neither of them emerged as the winner.  NTT East featured 2014 World Championship semi-finalist Minatsu Mitani (pictured right) in singles.  She won all of her matches, including against Hong Kong Open runner-up and newly-named national A Team member Nozomi Okuhara in the final.

NTT East had defeated Unisys and Renesas before the last day and scooped a last victory on the last day against Hokuto Bank, which meant they grabbed this league title for their first time in 36 years.

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Miyuki Komiya

About Miyuki Komiya

Miyuki Komiya is Badzine's correspondent in Japan. She joined the Badzine team in 2008 to provide coverage of the Japanese badminton scene. She has played badminton for more than 30 years and has been a witness to the modern history of Japanese badminton, both watching players become stronger on court and hearing the players comment on their increasing success over the years. Contact her at: miyuki @