Satomi Watanabe celebrates her maiden title and Ryunosuke Tsukue nets his fourth at the Japan nationals
By ALEX WAN – Squash Mad Asian Bureau Editor
Japan celebrated a brand new national champion last weekend at the 46th All Japan National Championships with the youngest ever winner in the women’s event.
After eight titles and being unbeaten at home for many years, Misaki Kobayashi’s dominance on home soil was finally ended by youngster Satomi Watanabe, who played brilliantly to win 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5 in the final.
“Reflecting back onto the match, I had to use all my skills and ideas against Misaki, and I am glad they all worked today. Winning this is just one of the many stages of my career ahead of me. There’s the World Championships in December where I will play for the first time. I will be training in England with Misaki till then”, said the newly crowned Japan national champion.
The 18-year old has been having a great run this season, picking up two runner-up medals at PSA events in China and Malaysia, and winning the PSA W5 Makati Open in Philippines. In July, she also gate crashed into the last four of the World Juniors before losing to top seed Hania El-Hammamy of Egypt.
In her last PSA event, the W10 Malaysian Open, she thumped second seed Rachel Arnold to make the semis before losing to eventual winner Sivasangari Subramaniam. Her great run here saw her ranking shoot up 10 places to her current career high ranking of 72. She had previously broken into the top-100 for the first time in September.
In the men’s event, Ryunosuke Tsukue, who became the youngest ever men’s champion in 2014 after winning as a 17-year old, won his fourth successive title in commanding fashion, beating Taiki Kaido in the final for the loss of only 6 points.
In August this year, Ryunosuke was a surprise package at the PSA M5 Bendigo International in Australia, where he strolled into the final without dropping a game, but lost out to top seed Joshua Larkin.
With both Satomi and Ryunosuke both only 18 and 20 years old, they have set the bar very high for the local squash scene and both look set to dominate for many years to come.
Satomi Watanabe bt Misaki Kobayashi 12-10, 7-11, 11-7, 11-5
Ryunosuke Tsukue bt Taiki Kaido 11-3, 11-2, 11-1
Pictures by Japan Squash Association