Hurricane Hirano leaves China in spin
Japanese teenager Miu Hirano poses with her trophy after claiming victory at the 2017 Asian Table Tennis Championships on April 15, 2017. [Photo/Xinhua]
WUXI, Jiangsu - China's women's table tennis team was left in a spin on the weekend after Japanese teenager Miu Hirano blew the favorites away to claim a sensational victory at the 2017 Asian Table Tennis Championships.
The 17-year-old Hirano stunned China's world No 1 Ding Ning 3-2 in the quarterfinals before accounting for second-ranked Zhu Yuling 3-0 and finally seeing off world No 5 Chen Meng, also 3-0, on Saturday to smash Chinese dominance of the tournament.
She is the first non-Chinese winner of the title since 1996, and only third Japanese victor since the competition began in 1972.
The triumph in Wuxi, Jiangsu province, was all the more remarkable considering Hirano had never before beaten a Chinese player in major international competition nor even managed to claim a single set over Ding.
At least one Chinese, though, was not totally astounded by the triumph - Hirano's coach, Wang Rui.
"We tried to change the style for all the players but she's the one that carried out all our instructions the best," said Wang.
"It's true, though, that the coaching staff were surprised by Hirano's rapid progress in just one year, more or less."
Wang, a former player at provincial level for Hebei, moved to Japan 15 years ago, becoming the head coach of Japan's junior elites' school.