Japan 1-2 France : “As a team, we can create an upset :)” Jun Matsumoto

D  [4] FRANCE 2-1 JAPAN  C1
Melissa Alves 1-3 Satomi Watanabe  11-4, 8-11, 12-10, 11-5 (42m)
Coline Aumard 3-1 Risa Sugimoto  11-4, 6-11, 12-10, 11-6 (40m)
Camille Serme 3-0 Akari Midorikawa 11-4, 11-2, 11-3

What a performance from Japan today. Far far too close for comfort for the S4 France team. Satomi played at her best level, and French Melissa wasn’t able to close the third whereas she was up 10/8 – still banging her head with her water bottle every 20s in punishement, bless her.

Then French Coline Aumard, just fresh from retirement, was unable to settle down in the second game against Risa Sugimoto, but clinched a crucial third, 12/10, vocally (and loudly) supported by the French camp, feeling the danger had the French number 3 lost to be led 2/1, pressure being on her. She was finally able to close the match, 11/6 in 40m.

Camille Serme, playing at number 2, faced a terribly dangerous Akari Midorikawa, only 17, who showed her superb qualities. Fortunately for the French camp, Akari made a few junior errors mid game – going for a bit too much as she was getting tired – giving Camille a nice lead. But remember the name, Risa Sugimoto. She hits hard, she is clever on court, and runs, runs, runs, never giving up.

Speaking with both Brooke Sano – who didn’t play today – and coach Jun Matsumoto, they are a team that truly believes in their chances.

“Going into the match, as a team, we were ‘you know, we could be able to do this’! Satomi is really good, and if she won the first one, we would have a good chance if we play well, and we are all together and focused.

“There was a bit of uneasiness as they were in the top 4 seeds, above us, but we had that slight belief we weren’t that far off and Lisa, playing second match, really tried to capitalise on that. She fought really hard.

“Lisa was leading in the second  we’ve got a good chance as Coline is just back from retirement and might be a bit nervous.

“As a coach, I am very proud of my girls. And we knew that Coline was trying to get back to her best level. And Lisa was really prepared for her, as she knew how strong she would be, so she was really gearing up for it, getting ready.

“So when she got the second game, I thought she had the momentum and that there was a good chance she could take the next one. And it was extremely close, 12/10 to Coline. Lisa was driving on that momentum, and really going for it.

“For us, getting that close against France, such a high ranked and strong team, is something very important. Satome is showing her class and the fact she is now becoming a player to be recon with, and a true role model for our players.

“Our three other players are quite at the same level, if we can get a win from Satome in the first match, then our team is pretty close and solid. And we won’t hesitate to seize that small chance and beat those giant teams…”