Teen Hirano becomes first Japanese table tennis World Cup winner

Kyodo

Sixteen-year-old Miu Hirano became the first Japanese to win the table tennis World Cup in the women’s singles on Sunday, defeating Cheng I-ching of Taiwan 11-9, 11-5, 11-4, 11-8 in Philadelphia.

Hirano is the youngest winner of the tournament and also the first non-Chinese to achieve the feat, according to the official website, although there were no players from China competing this year.

Hirano, who had to settle on being a reserve player during the Rio Games as Japan won the team bronze medal, defeated Rio team regular and close friend 15-year-old Mima Ito 11-13, 11-4, 11-8, 11-4, 11-8 in the quarterfinals on Saturday.

“I’m really pleased to have won the title,” said Hirano. “I’d like to aim for the gold medal at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. (Ito) is my best friend and my best rival.”

Hirano overcame Feng Tianwei of Singapore in Sunday’s semifinals 3-11, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11, 11-9, 15-13 before cruising in the final.