JAPAN – Inter Universities crown Sato

Japan’s Intercollegiate Championships were held from Oct 15th until Oct21st in Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Players having good results in regional tournaments in Japan this year could participate in this tournament […]

Japan’s Intercollegiate Championships were held from Oct 15th until Oct21st in Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Players having good results in regional tournaments in Japan this year could participate in this tournament and two of the main contenders were Indonesia Open runner-up Sayaka Sato and Russia Open champion Takuma Ueda (pictured).

Story and photos: Miyuki Komiya, Badzine Correspondent, live from Tokyo.

These championships were a good way to shine in front of the coaches from companies and the team, who were there to watch and check and young players for Olympics in 2012 and 2016.

Sayaka wins again

Sayaka Sato (pictured right), a member of the senior national team and Indonesian open finalist, made it a second consecutive win in the women’s singles.

Her coach in the national team, Kanako Yonekura, who is former National and Asian Champion, wasn’t surprised about her win. “Last year, she was a little nervous in this tournament. She has been improving in training and in big tournament in the world. Her level is already far from the other students. So I knew she would win if she could play her usual standard.”

Kanako was waiting for Sayaka on the audience seat with cakes. Sayaka was very happy to see it. Her other coach, Korean-born Kim Sun Sook joked “You can get the cakes, but only after you run 30 times around the hall.”

After chatting with coaches, Sayaka commented to Badzine “ Last year, I had much more pressure as I needed to win because I was only one National A player in the tournament.  I lost in the team tournament. After that, I was very disappointed. But the loss changed my mind. I really wanted to win and become one of challenger. This year, I had a little pressure, but not so much. I was in good mood and played as usual. So the win just came to me.”

Takuma / Takeshi  2nd

The previous winner in men’s double had already graduated last year. And for the other,  it wasn’t easy way to reach final this year. Shohei Hoshino / Akira Kobayashi, 2009 inter high school winner and National B, beat the 2009 finalists and reached final.

On the other side, Takuma Ueda and Takeshi Kamura (pictured), 2009 Vietnam International winners, were facing them. Winners in 2008 and semi-finalists in 2009, they had hope to fare better this year – the last chance for Takuma about to leave university. as So they really wanted to win again this time.

Hoshino/Kobayashi led 20-18 in the 1st game. But Ueda/Kamura kept their way without pressure and took the game 23-21. Hoshino/Kobayashi couldn’t stop their pace in the second game. Ueda/Kamura got the game easily as 21-10. When they got the winning point, Takeshi laid on the court with joy.

“I didn’t have confident recently because we lost in university league and world students championship in early round. I trained harder to remove my bad feeling. But actually, I was still in fear during this tournament even if we were in the lead,” said Kamura.

“My partner looked really tired because he had reached final in singles, too. So I thought that I should play well to save his stamina for singles final after this match. Anyway, I am really happy,” Takeshi told Badzine, right after he emerged from the hall, shouting loudly “Finally, I did it!”

Hoshino/Kobayashi and their university coach Tadashi Otsuka, former national player and current National B coach, commented on their loss “The first game was the key to the match.  We reached 20 point before Ueda/Kamura, but we lost. The loss made us nervous. On the other hand, our opponents played relaxed and keep their pace whole the 2nd game. Our offense was not so bad, but their defense was great. So they could wait for a chance of attack. It means they were in control of the pace. ”

Takuma appeal to be National A

After the final in doubles, Takuma Ueda (pictured), Russian Open winner, has one more final in Singles. There were 9 National B Team players in this category. Takuma beat some of the B players including Tatsuya Watanabe, who is 2009 semi-finalist in World junior, and Richi Takeshita who is winner of 2010 ranking circuit in Japan.

Another finalist was Shu Wada who is also a B player. They were team-mates with Kenichi Tago in high school.

1st game, Shu had good start and got a big lead. Takuma tried to follow him and almost caught him. But Shu took the game as 21-18. Takuma’s speedy footwork came back on 2nd game. He lead from start and kept his pace until last. Takuma got 2nd game easily as 21-13.  In the final game, Takuma could keep his concentration.

“I was able to keep my feeling strong during this tournament. My good results and experiences in international tournaments gave me confidence so I could play better than I expected,” Takuma said.

Takuma played 20 matches and Shu 15 matches in these 7days. They participated in team tournament, doubles and singles. Takuma won 20 consecutive matches. The many tapes on Takuma’s legs showed how tough this tournament was.

Results: University division winners

MS: Takuma Ueda (Waseda University)
WS: Sayaka Sato (Nippon Sport Science University)
MD: Takuma Ueda / Takeshi Kamura (Waseda University)
WD: Yuki Itagaki / Yui Miyauchi (Nippon Sport Science University)
Men’s Team: Hose University
Women’s Team: Aoyama Gakuin University

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 @ badzine.net