Asuka and Sakura claim under-21 honours


World junior champion Harimoto Tomokazu fell short of living up to the hype but his compatriots from Japan swept the under-21 titles to spoil Hong Kong’s party in the $150,000 ITTF World Tour India Open table tennis tournament here on Wednesday.
Though Tomokazu’s teammates Sakai Asuka and Mori Sakura claimed the honours, Tomokazu’s loss in the semifinal to Hong Kong’s Lam Siu Hang proved the talking point of the second day.
Lam Siu Hang attacked the flanks, repeatedly pinned Tomokazu to the backhand and eventually managed to eke out an 11-6, 3-11, 16-18, 11-9, 11-9 victory in about 50 minutes.
Tomokazu, who will be 14 in June, produced flashes of brilliance against his older rival but could not win the big points in the last two games.
As it turned out, Lam Siu Hang’s joy was destined to be short-lived when Sakai Asuka won the five-game final 11-8, 5-11, 11-4, 10-12, 11-8. At the adjacent table, Mori Sakura also needed five games to down Soo Wai Yam Minnie 4-11, 13-11, 6-11, 11-5, 12-10 in a thrilling finish to the women’s under-21 final.
In the semifinal, Soo Wai Yam Minnie ended the Indian challenge by stopping Akula Sreeja 11-2, 13-11, 11-7.


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