Ai-chan eliminated at nationals

Kyodo News

Ai Fukuhara was left to rue yet another disappointment Saturday after making an exit in the sixth round of the women’s singles at the Table Tennis National Championships. The popular teen, who has already booked her spot for this summer’s Beijing Olympics, lost in full sets to 2007 quarterfinalist Reiko Hiura at Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium. Fukuhara has never won a national title in nine appearances. Sayaka Hirano, making a bid for her second straight title and fourth overall, advanced to the quarterfinals along with 14-year-old and 2007 semifinalist Kasumi Ishikawa. In men’s singles action, Aomori Yamada high school student Jun Mizutani, who became the youngest to win a national title at 17 years and 7 months last year, and two-time national champion Kaii Yoshida both cruised through to the semifinals.