Japan’s Watanabe named tournament MVP

Although Egypt may have won their fifth WSF Women’s World Team Championship title last week, they were far from the only team to record an impressive achievement at the tournament, which successfully returned after four years away due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the Madinaty Sporting Club, Japan were one of a number of teams that impressed, with the Asian nation finishing 10th, one place higher than their previous best.

While every member of the Japan team made a valuable contribution, one name stood out repeatedly: Satomi Watanabe.

The World No.33 had been making a name for herself on the PSA World Tour recently, with excellent showings at the New Zealand Open and Hong Kong Open, but in Cairo that talent was on full display to the watching world.

Watanabe celebrates after beating World No.27 Alves

In a commendable personal achievement, the Japan No.1 won every single one of the six matches she played, with Melissa Alves, Aifa Azman*, Emilia Soini, Donna Lobban, Cindy Merlo and Alexandra Fuller all falling to the 23-year-old.

In recognition of her form in Egypt, Watanabe was awarded the Most Valuable Player [MVP] of the tournament award at the championship closing ceremony.

Speaking on the recognition, Watanabe said: “I’m really happy to be awarded! It means a lot for me and I could never have done it alone, so I really appreciate my teammates and those who supported me.”

The Yokohama native admits that, although she and her team are proud of what they achieved, they are unapologetic in their ambitions and are setting their sights on improvement in 2023.

“It’s always a good experience to play in the Women’s World Teams and I think this was the closest chance the team has had to make it into the top eight. I’m gutted not to make it through but there are so many positives to take for me and the team. We’re all really looking forward to playing again in two years!” Watanabe said.

At just 23 years of age, Watanabe will no doubt have plenty of opportunities to help Japan build on their achievement in Egypt. Expect plenty more to come from Japan’s breakout star!

2022 WSF Women’s World Team Championship Final Standings

1: Egypt
2: USA
3: England/Malaysia
5: Hong Kong, China
6: France
7: Canada
8: Scotland
9: South Africa
10: Japan
11: Australia
12: Switzerland
13: Germany
14: Wales
15: Finland
16: Chinese Taipei
17: Ukraine

*Watanabe was leading 2-1 when Azman retired with an injury.