JAPAN RANKING CIRCUIT 2013 – Experience rules

The 2nd biggest domestic tournament in Japan was held in Saitama from June 1st until June 5th.  The 32 best Japanese players in each category participated, including some young national team […]

The 2nd biggest domestic tournament in Japan was held in Saitama from June 1st until June 5th.  The 32 best Japanese players in each category participated, including some young team players.  Only a few young players managed to clamber past the imposing figures of their veteran compatriots.

Story and photos by Miyuki Komiya, live in Saitama

Men’s singles

In the men’s singles, former national team player Jun Takemura (photo) stand as a formidable obstacle to the hopes of the younger national players.  The veteran beat two of these hopefuls, Takuto Inoue in the quarter-final and Kenta Nishimoto in the semi-final in quick succession.  Meanwhile, former national team players Yuichi Ikeda and Kazuki Kozai beat expected players one by one.  Yuichi reached the final, winning all matches in straight games

In the final, Yuichi’s speedy footwork gave him a big lead and forced some unbelievable mis-hits out of the court from Jun.  After Yuichi grabbed the first game easily, Jun tried to calm down and play as usual with his stamina and aggressive offence.  Jun managed to play according to this strategy and in the end, the match and title defense were his 8-21, 21-17, 21-10.

“Young talented players like Takuto Inoue and Kenta Nishimoto have good skills and play consistently,” the champion told Badzine.  “I tried to use my stronger point like speedy footwork and to make them make more mistakes to slow them down.

“In the first game in the final, Yuichi played faster than I expected so I got nervous and made lots of mistakes.  After lost the 1st game, I was able to change my tactics and play better as usual.

“I love to play badminton.  So I want to play as long as I can!” the veteran added with a grin.

Men’s doubles

Former singles player Kazushi Yamada, who switched to doubles this year and paired up with former national team doubles specialist Kenta Kazuno (photo), had to face only one current national team doubles pair.  In the semi-finals, Yamada/Kazuno beat Hiroyuki Saeki / Ryota Taohata 16-21, 21-14, 22-20.  Yamada/Kazuno played against the expected players Yuya Komatsuzaki / Hiroki Takeuchi in the final.  Both pairs were nervous and made many easy mistakes near the net.  Finally, Yamada/Kazuno won it 21-16, 19-21, 21-13 and grabbed their 2nd title in 2013 after becoming the Osaka International Challenge winners in April.

“We are not in the national team but we want to play international tournament as a national pair next year,” Kenta Kazuno said.  “We need to learn more in our company training, and improve our skills.”

“I had played as a singles player so I don’t have good feeling in doubles so I just need to train to be a good net player,” Kazushi Yamada said with a smile.

“Kazushi has good skills in front of net so I want him to use them with consistency and confidence,” added Kazuno.

Mixed doubles

National team players Hirokatsu Hashimoto / Miyuki Maeda participated soon after coming back to Japan from Sudirman Cup.  But non-national team players Katsunori Ito / Yui Miyauchi beat the national scratch pair in the semi-final and reach the final.  Meanwhile, Takuto Inoue, boys’ doubles silver medallist at the 2012 World Junior Championships, paired with Ayaka Takahashi, current world #2 in women’s doubles , to reach the final, where they beat Ito/Miyauchi 16-21, 21-13, 21-19.

“Miyauchi is good net player and she can come to the net quickly,” Ayaka said.  “We were careful whenever she was at the net.”

“My partner can play great defense even if the opponents smash a lot to her so I could clear the shuttle as much as I wanted,” Takuto added.

Women’s doubles

Scratch pairing Miyuki Maeda / Reika Kakiiwa looked strong to get their first domestic title but they were beaten in the semis by team-mates Yui Miyauchi / Asumi Kugo (photo).  Meanwhile, their promising team-mates Yuki Fukushima / Ayaka Hirota reached final. Yui Miyauchi, also a finalist in the mixed doubles at this tournament, played aggressively and finished several rallies with her net tactics as she and Kugo grabbed their 1st title.

Women’s singles

With no national team players in the women’s singles draw, all players had a chance to grab the title.  In a close match between former national team players, Yuka Kusunose (photo) beat former national Masayo Nojirino 23-21, 22-20.

Final results
MS: Jun Takemura bt Yuichi Ikeda   8-21, 21-17, 21-10
WS: Yuka Kusunose bt Masayo Nojirino   23-11, 22-20
MD: Kazushi Yamada/Kenta Kazuno bt Yuya Komatsuzaki/Hiroki Takeuchi 21-16, 19-21, 21-13
WD: Yui Miyauchi/ Asumi Kugo bt Yuki Fukushima/Ayaka Hirota  22-20, 21-13
XD: Takuto Inoue/Ayaka Takahashi bt Katsunori Ito/Yui Miyauchi  16-21, 21-13, 21-19

Click here for complete results (in Japanese)

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