Hina Hayata’s Strategy to Top Paris with Attack from the Middle and Tempo Changes to Defeat Chinese Competitors | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Hina Hayata’s Strategy to Top Paris with Attack from the Middle and Tempo Changes to Defeat Chinese Competitors

Hina Hayata won her first international tournament of the season by dominating Miu Hirano and Miwa Zhang at the "WTT Zagreb"!

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
Hayata’s current world ranking is 5th. The top 4 rankings are all held by Chinese players, but she aims to win a medal at the Olympics and break into the top 3.

It was a battle that proved the queen’s strength.

At the international table tennis tournament ‘WTT Contender Zagreb’ held in Croatia (June 3-9), Hina Hayata (23), a member of the Japanese women’s team for the Paris Olympics, clinched the championship.

“In the semifinals on the 8th, she narrowly defeated Miu Hirano (24) in a full-game battle, and in the final on the following 9th, she dominated against Miyuu Kihara (15) with a game score of 4-0. Having defeated these two teammates who will join her in Paris, one can say she has no domestic rivals left. However, the strongest Chinese players did not participate in this tournament. It remains unknown how she will fare against the top-ranked player in the world, Sun Yingsha (23), and the 4th-ranked player, Chen Meng (30), who will be her biggest rivals at the Olympics.” (Sports desk)

In the quarterfinals of the ‘WTT Champions Chongqing’ held in China from May 30 to June 3, Hina Hayata suffered a straight-set defeat against Sun Yingsha. She commented, ‘If Sun Yingsha and Chen Meng are rated 10, then I would rate myself around 6.’ Even for Japan’s unrivaled ace, breaking through the Chinese barrier seems impossible. Hiroko Fujii, former Japanese representative and table tennis commentator, says, ‘Her battles in Zagreb may provide clues on how to defeat the Chinese players.

“What was particularly impressive in this tournament was Hina Hayata’s wide range of tactics. In table tennis, the theory is to attack the opponent’s weaknesses, but top players often turn this around and counterattack. To prevent this, Hayata effectively utilized attacks from the middle of the table, whether switching from forehand to backhand or vice versa. Chinese players typically have strong defenses on both sides, making it difficult to score decisively.
However, in this tournament, Hayata effectively used attacks from the middle against players like Hirano and Kihara. Shots aimed at the middle are harder for opponents to strike powerfully due to their proximity to the body, disrupting their defensive stance focused on the sides. Interestingly, even Chinese players struggle against attacks targeted at the middle. Once they are focused on defending the middle, Hayata can then capitalize by driving her signature shots into the corners with both forehand and backhand, resulting in a high probability of scoring points.”

However, her opponents are top-ranked players. It’s clear that if attacks from the middle become predictable, they will be countered accordingly.

“Hayata’s previous weakness was inconsistency in ball quality. She could deliver powerful shots with chances to swing her arms widely, but her ball rotation dropped when under attack and her swings became smaller. However, recently, her core strength has improved, allowing her to deliver strong shots even with a compact form. She can now vary spin without changing the quality of the ball, and use tempo changes to unsettle her opponents. By attacking not only the sides but also the middle with a variety of ball handling techniques, she keeps her opponents on edge. Hayata continues to grow; if she can control the pace of the game, winning a gold medal at the Olympics is entirely possible.” (From the same source)

From Japan’s queen to the world’s queen—Hayata’s evolution aiming for the summit in Paris is ongoing.

From the June 28, 2024 issue of FRIDAY


Photo Gallery1 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles