Marvellous Miyazaki deserves her spot in Japan team

Teen sensation: Tomoka Miyazaki, only 17, belied her tender years to stun India’s 2019 world champion P. V. Sindhu en route to reaching the semi-finals of the Swiss Open in Basel last month. ­— BADMINTON ASIA

PETALING JAYA: Teen sensation Tomoka Miyazaki has earned herself a well deserved spot in a strong looking Japanese team in the Uber Cup Finals from April 27-May 5 in Chengdu.

Miyazaki, who captured the girl’s singles gold in the 2022 World Junior Championships in Santander, Spain, has not taken long to prove herself in senior competitions.

The 17-year-old belied her tender years to win the World Tour Super 300 Orleans Masters title in France and stunned India’s 2019 world champion P. V. Sindhu en route to reaching the semi-finals of the Swiss Open in Basel last month.

Miyazaki has also toppled her more experienced teammates Nozami Okuhara and Aya Ohori.

The youngster from Osaka has rose to No. 26 in the latest world rankings and is now the fourth highest ranked Japanese behind only Akane Yamaguchi (No. 4), Ohori (No. 11) and Okuhara (No. 17).

All four players have been included in the team for the prestigious Uber Cup and will be joined by top doubles pairs Nami Matsuyama-Chiharu Shida (No. 4), Mayu Matsumoto-Wakana Nagahara (No. 7) and Rena Miyaura-Ayako Sakuramoto (No. 11).

Japan are the second most successful team in the competition with six titles, behind 15-time winners China.

The Japanese team last emerged victorious in the 2018 edition in Bangkok after beating hosts Thailand 3-0 in the final.

Yamaguchi and Okuhara are the only surviving members of that team this time.

In the last edition in 2022, also in Bangkok, Japan had to settle for bronze after going down 0-3 to eventual champions South Korea in the last four.

This time, Yamaguchi and her teammates will face Indonesia, Hong Kong and Uganda in Group C.

Only the top two teams in the group will progress to the quarter-finals.

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