Keiryo Tourney Arc

BABY STEPS Pro Tennis Chart:
baby-steps-rankings3{My 1st attempt to record the players’ stats – If you have the missing data or corrections please share them in the comments. Depending on where in the series you are looking the stats will vary.}

[I do not translate Japanese language, symbols or kanji, thus I have trusted the manga interpretations from Vampirecat and others. If you see an error or better interpretation please share your comments. Thank you for being here – enjoy!]

The author, Katsuki Hikaru  ( 勝木光 ):

She is a mangaka from Weekly Shounen Magazine, and published the series in October 17, 2007. Her old pen name was Ayumi Katsuki when she debuted in the FRESH magazine. –

Google poorly translates her name 勝木光 as “Wins wood light” or “Hikari Katsuki”.

The story is centered around a 15 year old high school boy, Eiichiro Maruo (affectionately called Ei-chan or Eichan), who earns all A‘s in grades but is physically out of shape (yes indeed, he is a stereotypical shy, bookworm).
Eichan wants to get into a exercise program, *then his mother pushes him to visit the nearby STC Tennis club. After embarrassing himself on his first visit to the club he trains alone and returns to join the club with the encouragement of his cute classmate Natchan, who is a STC member training to achieve her professional tennis dream.

After the many chapters covering 3 years, several *Junior tournaments, and his early professional début, 18 year old Ei-chan is now determined to win the Keiryo Challenger Tournament in Japan.

However, Eichan has only a meager 4 tournament points ranking him at #1413 in the professional tennis world, but he must achieve a pro-ranking in the lower half  of the 200s. A professional world rank of 230 requires a little over 200 points, and he is currently 196 points shy!
Better yet, would be a higher ranking that qualifies him for the main draw in a Grand Slam Tournament.
A straight-invitation to the main draw requires a ranking of below 100, which is around 600 points.
According to Ei-chan’s calculations, if he wins the Keiryo Challenger, he’ll pick up 100 points, bringing his count to 104 points and raising his ranking to the upper 400s.
Then if he finishes second (or better) in an ATP 250 tournament, that would be another 150 points, bringing his count to 254 points and raising his ranking to the 200s.


Red Asterisk (*) are inserted to draw attention to possible Mandela Effect.


Click To Navigate Chapters: The descriptives are not proper titles, but merely a hint.
Earliest Chapter Begins at the bottom
CH381 -Ei-chan’s Poor Beginning
CH382 –The Wimbledon Practice Arc Begins
CH383 -Takuma Improves and Aims For Wimbledon
CH384 -Takuma finally qualifies for the main event
CH385 -Ei-chan’s Surprise Practice Partner!
CH386 -Ike is Watching
CH387 -Ike Greets Max For The First Time
CH388 -Ike vs Max at Wimbledon!
CH389 -Has Team Japan Met A Wall?
CH390 -The Wimbledon Practice Arc Ends

CH391 -“Simulating the World
CH392 -Winning Vision For The Keiryo Challenger!
CH393 -Sweet Opportunity For Payback
CH394 -Eichan defeats Arber Christophe by developing aggressive technique
CH395 -Wang Wei’s Marathon Arc Begins & CH409 – Wang Wei’s Marathon Arc Ends!

CH410 -Dancing The Samba?!
CH411 –Is Natchan Teaching Eichan?
CH412 -Eichan vs Isobe

CH413 -Maruo vs Yoshimichi For National Team Membership!
[ Yoshimichi’s Story Arc Begins Here.]
CH414 -Energetic Fast Tempo
CH415 -“Japan’s National Team Mother”
CH416 –Yoshimichi’s Clear & Obvious Tell
CH417 -It’s Willpower!
CH418 -Yoshimichi goes all out!
CH419 -Full range?
CH420 -Eichan is confused
CH421 -Yoshimichi’s Strong Motivation & Will
CH422 -Level Up!
CH423 -Eichan receives a surprise gift?!
CH424 -The Meaning of Victory
CH425 -A Different Kind
CH426 -Will-power (Weaponized?)

CH427 -Eichan begins the semi-final match!
[Taka Watanabe’s Arc Begins Here – Risking Life in Tennis]
CH428 -Drastic Measures
CH429 -“Regimentation”
CH430 -“Full Capacity”
CH431 -“Crossroads”
CH432 -“Balance”

Here Comes The FINAL Round!
CH433 -“Growth”
CH434 -“Evening”
CH438 -“One Step Ahead.”
CH439 -Risky New Strategy?
CH440 – Is the momentum swinging?
CH441 – Pending… Prepare For Must Win 2nd Set!
CH442 -Eichan is having fun!
CH443 – Facing a mountain climb.
CH444 – Finally Broke Serve!
CH445 – Final Set
CH446 – The Final Set Is Tied…
CH447 – The Keiryo Challenger Crowns A Champion!
CH448 – Amazing Friends (Eichan & Krishna)
CH449 – Eichan Forms His World Tour Team!
CH450 – Eichan’s Team Is Aimed For The ATP World Tour [Arc Ends?]

PDF file: Baby Steps summaries

Jump To: […Most recent chapter release]

ATP rankings points distribution keiryo challenger

Have Fun with the Keiryo Challenger Predictions

Is this a gambler’s addiction?
🙂 LOL, I do not bet on sports.
I found making story predictions, based on logical observations and writing-a-story-limitations, is fun because it takes too long to wait for the next chapter release. See what predictions turned out to be correct, I think you will be surprised!

Predict when and what will happen after the Keiryo Challenger Tournament:
imagine the tournament has been concluded (even if Eichan placed 2nd and earned 60 points, or won to earn the max 100 points), he would be a new National Team Member with a professional world ranking between 600 – 400 tier professional tennis players.
Would the author make a calendar jump to the coming Davis cup team tournament (or briefly mention the coming Davis Cup because the veterans are likely to play?), or continue the monthly ATP competitions to reveal Eichan’s progression in world rankings?

[EDIT: 5 Oct 2017, the comment above was based on the manga prior to the Keiryo Challenger, now that the manga time-jumped ahead and has entered the Davis Cup I think the comment was amazing! Eichan’s ATP world ranking jumped to 407 and he climbed higher into the mid-300’s tier after the Keiryo Challenger. -Ronmamita]

Maruo Eiichiro’s Winning Vision:

Defeated Arber Christophe 6-3, 6-4


Ha! Eichan’s goal is winning the Keiryo Challenger, with his “winning vision” active for the first time since trying to convince his mother he wanted to pursue a tennis career!


Keiryo Challenger Predictions:

*Indeed I am going out on the limb and predicting that Eichan will reach the Final Round in the Keiryo Challenger.
Will Eichan “weaponize” his tennis?
Will Eichan win this Challenger?

√ For the very fun of it, let’s predict each of Eichan’s rounds!
√ a check means prediction was correct, a circled x means prediction was incorrect.
(We are unfortunately hindered without a full brackets chart progression for the Keiryo Challenger, thus it is difficult to predict who will advance from the opposite side to Eichan’s brackets.)

Q)….Defeated Wei (Prediction correct, but a surprise came in the form of a boring marathon story arc!)
√Q) Isobe/Kirilenko (My Wildcard prediction that the high ranking Kirilenko wouldn’t face Eichan came true –Yahoo! I thought Kirilenko would default due to injury, but regardless – Eichan still will not face the high ranking favorite before he defeats national team members).
R16) Defeated Isobe√ (prediction was correct, my reasoning for this prediction was because more drama is added for the necessary victory that is to come over Yoshimichi; if Eichan had defeated the high ranking Kirilenko, then Eichan would no longer be the true underdog but instead would be the dark-horse favorite.)

√QF)..Yoshimichi (national team drama is now on deck) Eichan must win!
Should we predict how many sets for this match?
A 2 set would be short and sweet, but a full 3 set match would be interesting too. Okay, I predict Eichan wins in 2 consecutive sets, because he needs to have stamina remaining for the final two rounds, and Yoshi’s earlier 3 set matches hints that he is a slow starter. Hope Eichan takes advantage of that slow start to end it forcefully in the 2nd set, perhaps in a dramatic tie-breaker! *[ Not a 2 or 3 set win, but rather a injury forfeiture by Yoshimichi – so sad, even though Eichan advanced to the semi-final round. edited 08 Mar 2017]

√QF)..Watanabe will likely defeat Pete to advance and face Eichan in the SF. The reason I predict Watanabe will face Eichan is because the author made the conscious effort to write the national team member (along with Yoshimichi for important national team drama) into this bracket that is specifically a potential match-up; otherwise she could have left Watanabe out of this tournament or written him in the opposite bracket where Watanabe has no potential for a match with Eichan unless they advance to the final round. I actually would like to see the Watanabe vs Pete match and note how a match against Eichan’s strategy would develop.

SF)…Watanabe/Pete (no Pete rematch, want more drama for national team: Watanabe vs Eichan), anyway I predict Watanabe (or “if” Pete should advance) will be defeated by Eichan. (Really, what would be the point for Eichan failing to reach the final?)

SF)…Krishna/Williams (Krishna qualified for Wimbledon and his motivation and skills are improving too, so I expect Krishna to advance to the final round to face Eichan!) Krishna has been a prominent character throughout the years (he is even more prominent in this Keiryo Challenger). ⊗Williams was defeated and Aloisi will face Krishna. [ed. 08 Mar 2017 to strikeout Williams]
Krishna is in Eichan’s generation and developing Krishna in this tournament is a logical plot progression. Appears to me, that the author is developing the plot to have Eichan vs Krishna in the final round. She is dropping those hints, regardless if Eichan lose in the final round, that match-up will be very significant.

The Winners’ Court is finally here, and the winner is:
Please consider that many fans predicted that Eichan would fail to advance to the finals, so this is a big deal that he made it this far to earn more points than if he had won a Futures.
If Eichan lose here, while it means he failed to achieve his immediate goal, he still is on the correct path with his
“Baby Steps”.

F)…..Krishna? or the 1st seed Tim Williams, an Australian, world ranked 97 will face Eichan! [ed. 08 Mar 2017 to strikeout Williams]
(Eichan reaching this final game would be amazing; Baby Steps = a Eichan lost and that is the most popular prediction which would not be a surprise -the 60 points would be a Baby Step boost. However, I think Eichan’s winning vision Wins!)
And talking about Krishna – I would like to see Krishna’s back story!
I predict another story arc, this one for Krishna, yep it may be a dozen chapters before the winner is finally revealed.
How about that for another wildcard prediction?

W)….Maruo finally Wins a championship to collect the total 100 points and join the national team sensationally!
(Winning Visiongiant stride)
The above image is my prediction with Eichan vs Krishna in the final court, it is not the actual manga.

The author may be developing Eichan’s ATP points and ranking to qualify for a ATP 250 series and then seriously start to compete on par with Monma and Ike. (Isn’t it more likely the author has already written the outcome to the Keiryo challenger, with hints sprinkled throughout the chapters?) Thus, Eichan must win the Keiryo Challenger, “W” to achieve his 100 points goal. This is the desirable scenario with Krishna receiving “F“60 points.
This best case scenario would advance the plot with a brief “giant stride“, the lost sub-theme in this methodical series.

On-the-other-hand, if the author is developing a slower progression (the “Baby Steps” standard theme) with a rekindled rivalry on the Japan National Team B-squad between Eichan and Nabae (though it should be noted that every national team member wish to call Sōji Ike their rival), then Eichan could lose this Keiryo Challenger, and be consoled with the “F” 60 points reward. Meaning he would have to win the next tournament or a series of tournaments.
In this undesirable scenario, my consolation hope would call for Krishna to be the “W” winner and receive the 100 points reward. I would then look forward to seeing Krishna and Sōji Ike in the ATP 250 and 500 series chapters.
But wait, isn’t this manga centered on Eichan?!
(Exactly why I think the plot needs Eichan to win this Tournament. We must wait to see what the author decided.)


Now Krishna is offering Eichan encouragement: Krishna assures Eichan it’s okay, he can defeat Yoshimichi.
Eichan, with a look of Surprise, asks why!?
Krishna is quiet for a moment, and then he smiles and says it’s purely based on his calculations…

Learning the ATP Ranking Point System
Maruo (Eichan) successfully advanced through the qualifying rounds to face the seeded players in the Keiryo Challenger!

Return to the Top

Most Recent Chapters Are Below:

Latest Manga Chapters here:


– Chapter 450 –

I think this may conclude my discussions of Baby Steps manga. I had fun with the Keiryo Challenger and all Baby Steps chapters

The English forum has stopped and much discussion is about alternate social media internet sites, such as:

If you are interested in English discussions of the Baby Steps manga series then visit those websites.
This was fun and Baby Steps manga has more.
* * *

CH450 opens at the University, Eichan told Muroga he came to the research center today to quantify (digitalize) the data on his body and faculties in order to overcome his physical weaknesses. However, he also has to come up with ideas for tennis strategies on court by analyzing various information. He explains that’s one of his own strong points, but he’s looking for someone to support him there. Muroga comments that tennis is also in the age of big data. Ei-chan isn’t clear on big data, so Muroga explains that for tennis this would be quantifying ball speed, falling point, and various other data items, then using the enormous data obtain for strategy. This technique is already being utilized in business. Eichan proposal request Muroga to join his professional tennis team – Muroga said he’ll consider it…
Coach Aoi informs Eichan of a tour coach available – who happens to be Aoi’s former coach, Eddie Holman, and currently is in Germany but will arrive soon.

See Chapter 450 to discover how Eichan’s pro team is formed and he prepares for the All Japan Championship!
After that he travels to observe the Davis Cup: Japan vs Argentina.


– Chapter 449 –

A very unpleasant SURPRISE from the Japan national team will delay offering Eichan a membership – this renege of their promise is in very poor behaviour!
But, Eichan responds as if it is no problem and sets out to gather his unique professional team to conquer the ATP world tour!


– Chapter 448 –

Eichan is pictured with the giant winner’s check $72,000, then a long consultation with Krishna about strategy and ATP Tennis possible future changes.
An excited Natchan gets a text message and photo from Eichan where she does a dance in Atlanta’s Airport terminal! Eichan receives additional support from his sponsors, but coach Aoi declines Eichan’s over seas team offer (STC duties limits him to Japan).
Eichan Wins His First Pro Tournament!!!

With the Keiryo Challenger win, Ei-chan’s ranking sky-rockets from #1413 to #407 (world rank) and 17 (JTA)!
The stunning tournament news reverberates through the Japanese tennis world.


– Chapter 447 –

The chapter opens with national team’s asst coach Asano thinking about this high level contest. Krishna to serve, match play continues…
Each player are locked in a tactical battle of predictions and imagination – With a surprise quick serve, that leads to Eichan’s leaping powerful forehand smash volley, to win the Keiryo tournament 1-6, 6-4, 7-6!
Eichan is the Keiryo Challenger Champion!

– Chapter 446 –

This chapter begins the tie breaker for the final set and the tournament victory! Both players are breathing and sweating heavily. Eichan to serve… Eichan wins his service game and Krishna responds in kind, 1-1.
The chapter concludes with the score tied at 5 games apiece 5-5.

– Chapter 445 –

The chapter opens with the chair umpire calling “Time” and the two players returning on court for the final set. The audience comments that the score is tied at 1 set all and speculate that Ei-chan is heading into the final set with the upper hand. There’s a shout urging Ei-chan to clinch the championship from the prelims. Ei-chan serves first.
… The contest is very tight and wins swings back and forth each game until finally, Krishna hits a backhand cross to take a point: Game, Krishna, 6-6. The crowd erupts with “Tiebreak game” and “If you’ve come this far, it’s probably the championship!” and chants of “Maruo!” End of chapter.

– Chapter 444 –

31 Jul 2017, raws were posted. “Ei-chan broke Krishna’s serve in a love game! He hit three winners down the line and then another one that was a drop shot. So the score is 1-6, 6-4. And apparently there’s Yukichi’s expected cry of “Anikiii!!” Krishna now sees that Ei-chan’s notes might provide an advantage Krishna hadn’t considered before. However, at the end of the chapter, Krishna dons a bandanna, which suggests a shift in mental gears, so he’s not down for the count yet”…. -V-cat’s comment.

– Chapter 443 –

Will the 2nd set belong to Eichan?
I wish the author will not have Eichan lose because of lack of endurance, I don’t know who has the greater endurance between Krishna and Eichan, and I have seen Eichan lose to endurance too often already.

24 July 2017, a spoiler was posted and revealed Eichan surprised Krishna by taking the first point as Krishna served the 10th game in the second set. Score is 5-4 with Eichan ahead in the 2nd set and 0-15 in the 10th game with Krishna serving – obviously, if Eichan breaks Krishna’s serve now then Eichan wins the 2nd set.
Yukichi is very happy to see Eichan again standing on the baseline in his most aggressive fast response defense, “Aniki!!!”


25 Jul 2017, the raw chapter was discussed, no translated summary is available…
However, discussions revealed Ei-chan figured out that Ei-chan’s backhand topspin is perfect for Krishna’s forehand cross, so Krishna was aiming for it. Ei-chan started minimizing the backhand topspin, hitting more flats and slices with his backhand. Because of those developments, Ei-chan could expect Krishna to use a forehand cross if Ei-chan hit a backhand topspin, so when Ei-chan did precisely that, Krishna responded as expected and Ei-chan was able to hit a backhand down the line from his ideal defensive position to take the point.

– Chapter 442 –

Eichan looks like he is having fun exerting his concentration on strategies to defeat Krishna, who looks to be accessing the risks with the confidence to not self destruct and remain the leader. The score at the end of this chapter is tied 4-4 in the 2nd set, as each player held their serve.


– Chapter 441 –

Spoiler discussed Krishna won 1st Set 6-1!
Eichan Must Win The 2nd Set!!!

09 July 2017: Waiting For English Discussion and Summary

…11 Jul 2017, you may not be aware that I write a lot in my private journals. Now that Vampirecat is ill and may be away from writing detailed summaries for a unknown amount of days, I decided to share what I wrote to myself about chapter 441’s images:
This chapter continues with Eichan’s service game with him leading 15-0.
Eichan serves to the outside corner for Krishna’s forehand return; Eichan moves far back behind the baseline to setup his return stroke…

Waiting for the last moment to commit his stroke and ball placement, mentally determining 3 options he chooses the 3rd option (1/8 precision down-the-line deep power stroke) …

After succeeding in freezing Krishna to dash behind the baseline Eichan considers his 3 options and chose a surprise variation with option 2 – hit a 1/81 forehand slice deep and directly at Krishna’s feet!
Krishna had difficulty returning that stroke…

and Eichan is prepared to go for a winner, a power smash to the outside – Krishna fail to touch – score 30-0!

Next serve, they rally and Krishna makes an error – ball out – score 40-0!
Eichan gains confidence!
Next serve and rally…

Krishna attempts a surprise drop-shot to the net!
Eichan struggles to volley…

Krishna hits a surprise lob high overhead!
Eichan races to the corner – but Krishna dashes to the net…

Krishna volleys – putting the ball away for a point – score: 40-15!
Eichan pauses to mentally review that series – the image shows a high difficulty level from Krishna.

Eichan serves to the outside, Krishna returns it with his backhand – later Krishna repeats the previous point with another surprise drop-shot to the net…

but the ball netted into Eichan’s court, Eichan puts the corded ball away for the game winner, score 1-5!

Eichan’s first game point of the match so far!
Krishna mentally decides something!
Krishna serves to the extreme outside (precision shot), Eichan returns it to Krishna’s outside (backhand)…

Krishna hits a down-the-line point winner!
Eichan fail to touch! Score 15-0

…Game points go back and forth 30-0, 30-15, 40-30, Eichan’s confidence is growing!

Krishna serves and volley!
Volley for the winner – Game and Set 6-1 Krishna!
End of chapter 441


– Chapter 440 –

Monday 26 Jun 2017 Spoiler was posted. Apparently Eichan is making slow progress towards an effective strategy. Eichan manage to prolong the games even as he lost them with the score 5-0. Is there a change in the momentum?
09 July 2017: Waiting For English Discussion and Summary


– Chapter 439 –

20 Jun 2017 Manga Raws were posted!
The images appears to reveal Eichan is processing a new strategy for defeating Krishna.
Will Eichan’s new strategy succeed?
09 July 2017: Vampirecat shared an English summary! She isn’t feeling well and apologizes for the delays. Let’s wish her a speedy recovery!
Chapter 439 page 15
Coach Aoi thinks that at close range, Ei-chan has the advantage; at a certain set distance, the advantage is Krishna’s; and if the range is opened farther, Krishna’s advantage steadily decreases. He wonders if Ei-chan had noticed that, and thinks Ei-chan had analyzed his notes thoroughly. (The art shows that when Ei-chan and Krishna are at their respective baselines -the close range- Ei-chan with his fast reactions has the advantage; at their usual defensive positions, Krishna has the advantage; and when they’re both behind the baseline, neither has the advantage.) Krishna moves back to his usual defensive position. Noting this, Ei-chan thinks that if Krishna moves back, he (Ei-chan) also has to move back.

– Chapter 438 –

One Step Ahead.”

Spoilers were posted today, 12 Jun 2017. Krishna is dominating the 1st set: 4-0

Today, 13 Jun 2017, the full raws were posted – showing not only Eichan being dominated, but whirling in mental confusion and overwhelmed!
Eichan must find a way to snap out of that emotional state…
Chapter 438 page 17

– Chapter 437 –

Japanese raw manga was posted today, 06 Jun 2017.
Krishna is really dominating the match thus far, as the score is 2-0 Krishna won two straight games in the first set!

Chapter 437 page 16

Is Krishna Too Strong?!

8:42 PM 6/6/2017 Ron’s thoughts:
Oh my – Krishna is revealed to be a left-handed, wealthy, genius with photographic memory!
Why must Eichan face such an opponent in this Keiryo challenger?
I mean this match-up could have been postponed for another tournament.

NOTE: Dear writer, Katsuki Hikaru, this Keiryo Challenger is the first Epic Arc (series) with Eichan in a ATP Tournament, and it grants the reader a bonus with the potential to be Eichan’s first ATP tournament winner.
Inserting a left-handed, wealthy genius with photographic memory and gifted intuition as the final opponent in this epic “growth-spurt” tournament for Eichan was OVER-KILL!!!

As a “writer” I would have postponed this match-up (Krishna could have been chosen to be in Eichan’s first ATP250 tournament).
Again as a “writer” I already decided that Eichan’s winning vision has found a way to capture victory in Keiryo’s final court for the maximum 100 ATP points.

As I attempt to interpret the writer’s goal for this matchup with Eichan vs Krishna’s wealth & genius, I imagine Eichan losing this match. But, that is not how I would write it, so I am confused.

This tournament was meant to be a momentous achievement, which it is guaranteed to be, now that Eichan has entered the final court!!!

This challenger will grant Eichan either the full 100 or the runner-up 60 points – either point gain is a very big deal for Eichan, and transitioning to national team-member is also a very big deal.
As a “reader” I am more interested and entertained by reading about Eichan’s first professional tennis tournament victory. To be a professional tournament “champion” is HUGE!
The manga required that in some chapter episode Eichan MUST WIN a ATP TOURNAMENT. Whether it will be a epic victory or just a side-note in the manga series is the writer’s choice.

This Keiryo challenger tournament is an epic arc and should satisfy reader’s interests. However, failing to win here would be a poor writing choice, not because of the realistic baby steps advancements, but because Eichan’s first pro-tournament victory will be anti-climatic and not an epic event!!!
(Not winning here in Keiryo Challenger means Eichan will win somewhere else, and it also means the later tournament victory will be anti-climatic. A downer.)

I would like to know the cultural and foundational stone supporting the meaning of the Baby Steps manga. What I mean by this is I have a “feeling” or hunch that the author has a reason for telling the story from a underdog perspective where Maruo is not a popular Tennis player winning tournaments. When I make the effort to look at this underdog-not-winning character perspective I see merits for a message that says “Believe in yourself” and do your best. However, simultaneously I do not enjoy reading about epic fails, and this may be a cultural difference…
Will the author actually write Maruo losing to Krishna?
I am sad to say she may have done that, this is sad because for me a Maruo loss would be a very disappointing story about his Epic Fail at the Keiryo Challenger.

*** Ok, I expressed my concerns and disagreement ***

Now, I shall go forward and guess what the author will write. This manga needs Eichan to win this Keiryo Challenger, thus my prediction is for Eichan to develop another weapon or discover Krishna’s weakness.
There you go, somehow Eichan wins against all the odds and amazingly in a uncharacteristic “Giant Stride” rather than “Baby Steps”.
I am impatient to see what choices the author made for Eichan, and this chapter 437 offers almost too many challenges for Eichan to overcome.

Thus, you should see the point I am making about this awkward plot progression, win or lose, the subsequent chapters will be emotionally or logically disappointing. A win will make a super-powered Eichan face kryptonite to lose to other opponents after he is officially accepted into the national team. And I already explained the problem if Eichan lose this tournament and how it would influence the emotional factor for his eventual 1st tournament crown.
I have posted my thoughts, and want to know what you think: Is Krishna Too Strong?!
If so, then this epic Keiryo tournament arc would be a (poetic or romantic?) story about Maruo’s epic loss…

How many times do you enjoy hearing stories about the baby’s first steps?
Curious to hear your thoughts. ~Ron

– Chapter 436 –

Today, 29 May 2017, the chapter spoiler was posted.
It was revealed that Krishna had scouted or studied Eichan in a complex way with Krishna’s photographic memory and complex analysis he also understands Eichan’s tennis notebooks and strategic weapons. Krishna won the first game (his serve) without losing a point and is dominating the match from the start. The score went 15-0; 30-0; 40-0; GAME 1-0.
I am guessing from the spoiler that Eichan’s service game is not going well and Eichan lost his first service point 0-15…

We, hopefully, will get clarity from the full raw chapter when it is posted.

Chapter 436 page 16
Today, 30 May 2017, the full Japanese raw was posted.
Eichan realized Krishna observes Eichan’s last second reaction and responds instantly to attack Eichan’s down-the-line weapon, even so Eichan managed to put away the return to win the point and tie his first service game 15-15.
Can Eichan hold his service game?

– Chapter 435 –

Today, 22 May 2017, the chapter spoiler was posted.
I am uncertain if Eichan talked with Krishna about his new-found confidence (assertiveness) but his recent mental strength was revealed (apparently Eichan called Atsushi to find out more about Krishna), and Krishna serves to win the first point 15-0.
Vampirecat said Ei-chan: “analyzed the difference between playing against a right-handed player and Krishna’s left-handed play, and has made adjustments to his receiving position—something Krishna considers typical of Ei-chan”.

Today, 24 May 2017, full Japanese raws were posted.

Chapter 435 page 16

…Vampirecat posted a summary for chapter 435, 30 May 2017. A lot happened early morning of the final court… interestingly Atsushi returns Eichan’s earlier phone call causing a interruption in Eichan’s early morning warmup on the Keiryo court. Atsushi reveals a lot about Krishna who is in a very wealthy family, will attend a prestigious university and maintain a pro tennis career (Krishna has the funds to travel around the world all year – Eichan is envious Krishna lives in a different world from him who doesn’t have money…) Krishna gets the blessings from everyone at IMG for his decision to have a dual career in tennis and business.
After the phone call with Atsushi the stands begin to fill with excited spectators amazed that two teenagers are on the final court.
The teaser blurb says “What Ei-chan is aiming for is naturally to win the first move” (meaning to seize the initiative).
The title of the next chapter is “Respect“; this apparently refers to Krishna’s attitude toward Ei-chan.

– Chapter 434 –


Today, 15 May 2017, the spoilers were posted.
Coach Aoi and Natchan help Eichan strategize while reviewing video of Krishna’s match. Eichan recollects his time with Krishna at IMG. Later, Eichan walks Natchan home.
Eichan hugs Natchan and tells her she’s absolutely essential to his life’s plan. Then she tells him to show her that plan next time, because she’ll make amendments to the situation since there’s also her life’s plan. And then the two think that, just now, sounded like a marriage proposal.
Chapter 434 page 15
17 May 2017, today, the full raws were posted and later in the evening the translated summary was discussed. The images revealed that Krishna is left-handed! For years the fictional “Baby Steps world” knew Krishna was a lefty, but I was clueless that Krishna is left handed (LOL) the small hints were there for astute observers. Not being a tennis player, I missed it, that’s so frustrating… Moving on to the details from the summary, Natsu shares her observation that Krishna is a intuitive opponent and adjust his strokes at the last moment. Eichan marvels at Krishna’s memory and skills… “Natchan adds that if you have a good memory and a good situational judgment, then if intuition is a strong consideration, Krishna might be the type who would play better by making split-second decisions on the spot. Aoi agrees that the moment that sort of guy gains power and technique, he’s likely to become stronger.”
Coach Aoi concludes that Krishna is an outstanding talent who will no doubt   advance in the tennis world in the future, so it’s good that Ei-chan can play against him now.

– Chapter 433 –


[08 May 2017 Today the chapter spoiler was posted!
Watanabe looks too angry, as if he wanted to smack Eichan rather than shake hands.
Funny post game interactions:
Eichan gets too friendly with Natchan, several spectators and Eichan’s dad blushed…
Apparently coach Asano is giving Watanabe a pep-talk with the grand slam goal setting and growth…
Eric, the sponsor has dialogue – maybe he was impressed that Eichan was able to make fans smile…
All these interactions appear to be before Eichan gets to cool down with player’s healing treatments or massage. Chapter 433 full raws should be posted in a couple of days; we still are waiting for chapter 432 translated summary, until then – ciao!]

Today, 09 May 2017, the Japan raws were posted!
10 May 2017, Vampirecat posted the chapter summary. Watanabe looks too angry to speak as Eichan shakes hands to conclude the match. Eichan’s fatigue is on display as he stumbles walking up the steps to greet friends, family, and coach Aoi. Eichan catches himself by holding onto Natchan’s shoulders and surprisingly he remains there and puts his head on her shoulder too! [Coach Aoi’s dialogue reveals that Eichan’s growth spurt is a major achievement, but also revealed that strategy may not work on other players. Which leads me to consider that even though Eichan’s confidence is growing, he needs more stamina and skills?]
Coach Asano pep talks to Watanabe asking him to consider lifting his goals past playing in the Grand Slam’s main draw, to winning matches and reaching the best 8 in the Grand Slam. A diagram image shows that Watanabe could consider the tougher world tour rather than these low-level venues to face stronger competitions may help Watanabe improve. Coach Asano assures he saw evidence, in the 2nd half of the match with Eichan, that Watanabe can grow. Asano offers to work with Watanabe, who accepts the offer. Eichan has changed clothing and coach Aoi says they must go to get post game treatment in preparation for tomorrow’s final round. Eichan thanks Eric for making a special effort to come and watch his match. Eric replies he finally saw Eichan producing smiles, and adds that he believes Ei-chan is capable of more. Coach Aoi asks Eichan’s dad to record the Krishna match, and Ei-chan’s dad agrees… “Eric’s secretary comments that Ei-chan was cool. Eric agrees and adds that Ei-chan’s steady but bold. If it’s possible for Ei-chan, he will grant their wishes. There’s a thrilling charm to how he destroys his obstacles.”
Later, after freezing a bath and muscle rub Eichan’s dad called to inform them that Eichan’s next opponent will be Krishna – Eichan is very excited to play Krishna!

The teaser blurb says “A tactical session with Natchan, devoted to the championship!”

The title for chapter 434 is “Evening.”
[Apparently Natchan will go to Eichan’s home to help strategize defeating Krishna as a farewell evening before she departs to the University of Georgia… not much romance but strong bonding nonetheless.]
Chapter 433 page 06

*[PS: I have this recurring thought that every player around Eichan is getting special tutelage and personal coaching except Eichan. Eichan needs a special coach that prepares his body and skills for the Grand Slam!
When will Eichan stop feeling fatigue during a match?
Natchan, Ike and coach Ronnie are most consistently helping along with coach Aoi and the tennis environment in general.]

– Chapter 432 –


24 Apr 2017, Chapter spoiler was posted:
In game one, of 2nd set, Eichan defeated Watanabe’s serve; then won his service game making the score 2-0. Watanabe fought hard to keep his next serve 2-1.
Then score went 3-1; 3-2; 4-2; 4-3; 5-3; 5-4; and Game set and match won by Maruo count 6-0, 6-4 !
Crowd roars in surprise and delight; the sponsor (Erik) is thinking something pleasant?
*In a few days the full chapter raw should be posted.

25 Apr 2017, Full chapter raws were posted today.
Still waiting for a translated summary…

Today, 09 May 2017, a translated summary was posted by Vampirecat.
Watanabe, after holding his first service game of the match in game 3 of the second set, lost a hard fought contest where Watanabe failed to break Eichan’s serve. Omniscient narration explained that Watanabe forced his power offense into the match as Eichan’s fatigue was setting in. Even so, Watanabe’s efforts were in vain as he failed to break Eichan’s serve – just when it looked as if Watanabe could break Eichan’s serve in the 10th game of the 2nd set Watanabe hit a fast and powerful shot that Eichan failed to touch,but it landed just outside the baseline. Eichan was then declared the winner of the semifinal match.

Chapter 433 is Titled “Growth”.


– Chapter 431 –


[15 Apr 2017 As we wait for chapter 431 to be posted in a few days, I find myself entertained with speculating about what the author will write in future episodes. The character development of Eichan is rather slow. Eichan is a kind, honest, and hard working virgin teenager (18 yr) that should exemplify his maturation in this season of his life as a young adult professional tennis player. Eichan can’t drive a car, is still emotionally shy, but now has the will to sacrifice his life for what he believes to be important (tennis) – so my point is, the author should mature some of his other personal life to catch up to his tennis career. Eichan’s trait has been to improve other players (he freely shares his tennis notes and works hard to help others) as he also improves, perhaps Eichan’s tennis will help Watanabe too. I look forward to the next chapters with this focus on maturation. ~Ron]

17 Apr 2017, today the chapter spoiler was posted. Apparently, only the first game for the second set is presented with Watanabe serving 15-30…

18 Apr 2017, the full raw chapter was posted, and from the images I thought:
A lot of mental-dialogue for only 3 points scored in the first game for the second set.
Watanabe does soul searching to serve for the 1st point, 15-0 and scowls ferociously with his achievement!
Eichan has thoughts and changed strategies to tie the game 15-15. The chapter ends with Eichan’s different strategy attacking Watanabe’s service game and taking the lead 15-30!

*[Eichan, apparently, has displayed two effective strategic weapons so far in this tennis match with important national team implications.]

The teaser blurb: “He has now dared a second time! Will he be able to follow it up with another?!”
The title for chapter 432 is “Balance” or “Equilibrium.”

– Chapter 430 –

Full Capacity.”

Today, 10 Apr 2017, Spoilers for ch.430:
“Ei-chan took the first set 6-0. However, Ei-chan had at least one shot go out, so his control might be starting to falter due to fatigue. The chapter ends with Watanabe frustrated, Asano noting that Watanabe’s in a slump but will gain something if Watanabe overcomes it, and Ei-chan scribbling in his notebook as usual.” -Vampirecat

Today, 11 Apr 2017 Raws were posted.
The first set became an ordeal for Watanabe, who fears the junior players may have passed him on the national team. Watanabe is in disbelief that Ei-chan is growing flat out during this match… when he’s been a pro for 7 years… he entered the 200s ranking at age 22, and after joining the national team, he practiced more than anyone (in his opinion) in a good environment. He even made it to the Grand Slam qualifiers for 3 consecutive years… Eichan feels all the puzzle pieces are being connected and he broke through a barrier allowing him to advance his vision and tennis strategies as a professional tennis player to a higher level. Eichan is in control of the match thus far with uncharacteristic confidence. Coach Asano revealed Watanabe had stagnated as a pro-tennis player, maybe this match against Eichan will be an important lesson and Watanabe will gain something.


End of Chapter 430.
The teaser blurb says “Will he be able to seize victory with his compilation (apparently of new skills, new mental outlook, and new tactics)?”
The title of the next chapter can be translated as “Crossroads” or “A Parting of Ways.”

– Chapter 429 –


[ 27 Mar 2017, today chapter spoiler was posted, Eichan is in the zone and able to hit a 1/100 accurate shot! Eichan won the 2nd game, score 2-0! ]

29 Mar 2017, today I saw the full raws; it was discussed that chapter 430 is expected to skip a week and be available 10 Apr 2017.
Asano apparently noted how Ei-chan’s skillful play stopped Watanabe’s movement; Watanabe was hesitating between watching out for a cross or a down-the-line. Eichan boldly exceeded his fear/pressure with the 1/100 backhand down-the-line-shot to take the point 30-15; then his next serve led to the rally when he forced Watanabe to run outside the double’s alley to hit a return, where Eichan won the point with a backhand volley cross-court 40-15; then his next serve led to the game winner with a wrap-around to meet the ball with his forehand and wait ’till Watanabe committed with a move toward the outside boundary to defend against Eichan’s down-the-line, but Eichan smashed a cross-court to the opposite corner for the game.
Score: 2-0
Natchan, expects Ei-chan to win… which means she won’t be able to see him tomorrow (when she leaves for the States). Since Ei-chan would be playing in the finals, he can’t see her off at the airport. [Natchan’s predictions about Eichan have been accurate many times.]


– Chapter 428 –

Drastic Measures

Ch.428 opens with Ei-chan thinking that this time the ball accurately landed in the spot he aimed at with 2/81 targeting, so this is probably more than merely being in good condition. Eichan feels this is a very good response to Watanabe’s (wary) start to the match, which is more low-powered than he expected.
Watanabe thinks Ei-chan is different from yesterday. At a glance, the two consecutive winners were unreasonable and he had been taken in. However, when power and stability go together, it’s naturally hard for them to coexist. He concludes that if it’s just a mere fluke, it’s better not to put an end to it (probably because he expects Ei-chan to commit errors).
Ei-chan expects Watanabe to want to attack using power now…
Watanabe is wary of Ei-chan’s down-the-line: in other words, Eichan’s down-the-line holds true as a weapon. His notes show contingency planning, “in the event where the opponent is aware of and wary of my down-the-line”: 1) hit a strong shot cross-court → attack in the opposite direction using power and course; 2) control a short ball cross-court → attack in the extreme opposite direction using course; 3) a slow ball deep and cross-court → take over the timing.
…Eichan’s bold strategy pays off, surprising everyone – score: 0-40!
Watanabe questions whether he had been too wary of Ei-chan’s down-the-line. However, he tells himself there’s no way he wouldn’t be wary of it because he had been beaten that way twice. Nevertheless… he concludes that this is bad: it’s a pattern where he is suddenly in deep (sh*t).
Watanabe calms himself and apparently gets serious, to go full power. Eichan simulated the worst-case scenarios (in his notebook) that he thought of completely with the intention of risking his life: how would he be forced to surrender using power, and how he should counter those. (By doing this, Ei-chan already has potential solutions thought up, so he won’t freeze because he is racking his brain for new strategies!) Ei-chan thinks that here it is important that he won’t die even though he is risking his life…

Eichan wins the 1st game (stole Watanabe’s opening service game) 0-1!

Eichan serves, Watanabe shows off both his foot-work and power to take the point: 0-15.
Eichan recalls his strategy for when Watanabe would over-power him and responds to tie the score: 15-15!
…Stunned silence from the audience. After a moment of shock, Asano looks excited, thinking that this style of fighting against Watanabe, who is a member of the national team, goes beyond the level where you would say Ei-chan is merely doing well.
Ei-chan also looks stunned. He thinks it was perfect…
this is similar to when he entered the zone, except that unlike that time, it feels more real…
With glowing aura, Ei-chan looks transcendent.

End of chapter 428.
The teaser blurb says:
“The Premonition of an Awakening to the Ideal Build-up…?!”

The title for the next chapter can be translated as “Regimentation” (imposing order or discipline) or “Rallying” (mobilizing for a common cause) or “Concentration” (gathering together).

– Chapter 427 –

Eichan begins the semi-final match!

How to Risk One’s Life.”

! More good news for Baby Steps:
Baby Steps Vol. 44 will be released April 17, 2017 with episodes #416 “clarity” to #425 “heterologous”

The 2nd official fan book is on sale:
2nd official fanbook, covers the pro career up to the Keiryo tournament

Official Fan Book Baby Steps All A Notes Pro

Weekly Shonen Magazine
Kou Shiki Fan Book Baby Steps All er notebook professional

I searched to update the Keiryo semi final Brackets with scores.
[13 Mar 2017, CH 427 spoilers were discussed.]
Eichan requested info on Watanabe’s tennis from Nabae, based on Nabae’s experience in the All Japan. Eichan discussed with coach Aoi how to apply risking life in tennis. Eichan decides to play with life at risk, he will hold nothing back and deploy the weapons he has. He starts by aggressively attacking Watanabe’s serve with a 4/81 shot that gets past Watanabe to take the first point!
The chapter ends with the score at 0-30 in Eichan’s favor in the first game.

14 Mar 2017, tonight the full raw chapter was posted.
Chapter 427 was fast paced with a straight forward opening for the first game. When a translation is discussed I will share details.

16 Mar 2017, this morning V-cat posted a translated full summary.
Ch.427 opens with Watanabe classifying Ei-chan as similar to Nabae, whom he lost to in the All Japan. He thinks that to make the best of that loss, he’ll use power as his base but hold back on his full power. On top of having grasped the strategy of being challenged, he’ll decide objectively on the allocation of the power he uses. (I get the impression Nabae wore out Watanabe through strategy, so Watanabe committed errors and lost.) Watanabe tells himself that even before being a member of the national team, a 26-year-old pro ranked 161st in the world doesn’t have the time to lose to someone below him here.

Eichan thinks that hearing stories about martial artists who risk their lives in matches might have had a big effect. In addition to that, he was able to prepare better than usual.
…Flashback to Ei-chan’s bedroom yesterday, he called Nabae, wanting Nabae to tell him about Watanabe. Nabae said during the All Japan, he was overwhelmed in physical ability at the start (of the match), so he compensated by slowing the tempo and pushing (holding out/hanging on). After that, he accelerated the tempo and went to the net, and managed to hold on, switching tactics before he could be beaten. So Nabae suspected that Watanabe doesn’t feel he (Watanabe) had been beaten in real ability. Nabae added that as things are now, he believed it (defeating Watanabe?) would be tough, and he is now preparing himself so that he won’t be inferior in power next time. He offered to send Ei-chan his data from that time (the match with Watanabe), which Ei-chan eagerly accepted. End of flashback.

…As Ei-chan and Watanabe exchange shots to warm up, Ei-chan thinks that in his present condition, he too can’t defeat Watanabe in physical ability. But if Nabae could defeat Watanabe, then there is a way. Thanks to Nabae’s data (the art shows the paths of multiple points; they’re apparently from Nabae’s match with Watanabe), which Ei-chan analyzed, Ei-chan was able to create hypotheses based on ideas from someone else. However, if he is risking his life in this match, even that (creating those hypotheses) isn’t enough.

As Eichan solidly returns Watanabe’s serve a flashback explains coach Aoi’s comments about “Play with a willingness to die,” but it’s no hardship when he can plan on doing it. Coach Aoi suggested that when a person who is about to be run down by a car but escaped harm – things suddenly looked like they were in slow motion. Ei-chan immediately connected this to the zone—and speculated that it meant that if he develops a willingness to die, then he would approach the zone.
Eichan hit a winner down the sideline.
Ei-chan feels that the contradiction between “I will risk my life” and “I
won’t die” (in tennis) is becoming an impetus for him to be able to play with all his heart.
…Aiming for the corner, he hits a winner backhand shot down the line with 2/81 targeting.
Score 0-30

…Audience reactions: Whoa, that’s two consecutive winners down the line all of a sudden!
He clinched it quite easily, you know
He’s also lucky, huh;
Will he keep doing that sort of thing?
However, it’s unlike Maruo, you know.
Japan’s national team assistant coach Asano is also surprised, thinking “Oh…that’s awesome!”
Ei-chan thinks: “I can go with this…maybe.”
End of chapter.
The teaser blurb says “His opponent is higher ranked and a member of the national team…How far can he go with this?!”
The title of the chapter 428 can be translated as “Forced Attack” or “Drastic Measures” or “Hard-line Tactics.”

– Chapter 426 –

Thinking” {or “Ways of Thinking”}
[06 Mar 2017 Spoilers were posted, I wait for full raws and hopefully a translation will follow soon.]

  • Eichan was given advice to play tennis like his life depends on it – Eichan is willing to risk his life for tennis!
  • Updated Brackets Krishna vs Aloisi, and Maruo vs Watanabe in the semi-final round.
  • Eichan and Natchan text-chat over the phone, Natchan was packing and shipping her things over seas…

08 Mar 2017, Full raws were posted, and so many characters returned for this chapter!

Chapter 426 opens with coach Aoi, Eichan, Ike’s older brother, and a kickboxer (Harada) sitting on the floor at the kickboxing fitness studio dramatically discussing risking your life to defeat your opponent.
Coach Aoi and Eichan say goodbye to the kickboxers and while walking down the sidewalk they connect the kickboxer’s discussion with the upcoming tennis match against Watanabe!

Scene switch: Eichan text-message Natchan…
[I do not have a translation of the chat, nor any of this chapter – this is all based on images.]

The next day has Krishna warming up for his match with Aloisi, and the updated bracket chart is revealed. [Disappointingly, all the tournament matches are not included, but I went through all the chapters to update brackets wins and loses as best I could.]
Asano is chatting with Watanabe as he warms up [Perhaps it is about Eichan, Yoshimichi, and the national team?]…

Next we see Eichan’s parents both walking to the audience bleachers…
Eichan’s sport fitness sponsor is in the audience…
Natchan greets Himeko (Sasaki) and Kojirou (Kageyama)…
Eichan is reviewing his tennis notes while listening to music in his earbuds and coach Aoi interrupts to go to the tennis court. The spectators are loudly enthusiastic. [Are some cheering for the underdog, Eichan?]

*** Some of my thoughts about this semi-final arc ***
08 Mar 2017, I have not found a translation for the last two chapters (CH425 & 426) and my frustration is through the roof. I am anxious to see what solution Eichan has found to improve his tennis or as I define this as leveling up to weaponize his tennis. Perhaps my imagination was off course for seeing the Yoshimichi match as a important nurturing game to reveal Eichan’s latent talent. Perhaps the text details will not reveal what good came out of the Yoshimichi match. Unfortunately, I am questioning if Eichan’s great skills at the net will even become a weapon to be used as I imagined!
Oh, and the other “special skills” development was the failed attempt by Eichan to play with pinpoint accuracy (4/100 square grid) for powerful deep sideline & baseline strokes, and what about the new music rhythm skill has not become a major weapon either.
Thus, these possible weaponized skills (or some new skill) could be introduced to improve Eichan’s tennis. I am disappointed because I have not read about the “special skill” yet, and feel like I am going into the Watanabe semi-final match without a hint of what improved skill Eichan can unleash to win. These two latest Chapters certainly showed Eichan thinking a lot, thus the translations has a lot to reveal.
So with this emotional downer, I await the next chapter to start the 1st game in the 1st set between Eichan and Watanabe to reveal a winning vision.
I hope translations will reveal answers to all the above.

14 Mar 2017, today a detailed translated summary was posted!
After reading the translation, perhaps we should consider Eichan’s immediate effort is to weaponize his mental approach to professional tennis and manage his fear.
Harada shares a story about a senpai.
A man who lights incense sticks while in the waiting room before a match. Ei-chan asks why the man does that. Harada’s understanding is that the man is conducting his own funeral…

Yeah, intense story – now we understand Eichan’s fearless determination to play as if his life is at risk. Apparently Yuudai is Souji’s older brother, and surprise – Yuudai and Harada invited Ei-chan to a taste of fighting right there! LOL, coach Aoi had to stop them by reminding them of the match tomorrow. Yuudai and coach Aoi liked the consultation and agreed to do it again sometime.
Scene change to Natchan’s bedroom.
Natchan’s smartphone displays that she messaged Eichan, “congratulating him on his win, telling him she’s definitely going tomorrow to cheer him on, and that she’s going to cheer for him with all her might because she won’t be able to watch his matches for quite a while.”
Eichan messages her, “thanking her, then he asks her to wait for him after his match ends since the only time they can meet at leisure is tomorrow, and then he adds that he’s going to play in a way that puts his life at risk in tomorrow’s match, so he asks her to support him. Natchan puzzles over “put his life at risk.”
Scene change to the next day and the semifinals of the Keiryo Challenger.
“As Watanabe stretches, Asano comments that as the final holdout of the national team, Watanabe can’t lose. Watanabe replies that, frankly, that sort of thing doesn’t matter to him. Asano notes that Watanabe is cool, but adds that sort of guy is also necessary to the team. Watanabe speculates that it’s better for Asano as a coach to cultivate a young sprout. Asano’s all shocked: “What are you saying?! The team trains the strongest guys at that time!” He points out that in that sense, Ei-chan was no match for Yoshimichi yesterday. But if Ei-chan defeats Watanabe today, that’s a different story. Watanabe gives Asano a flat look and tells him he won’t lose. Asano grins and comments that Watanabe is reliable. He orders Watanabe to show him a fight that’s typical of a member of the national team.”

…As Ei-chan walks to the court, “he wonders how far he can risk his life in tennis, where you won’t die.”
End of chapter.
The teaser blurb says “How effective will the mental training be?!
The title of the next chapter is “How to Risk One’s Life.”

– Chapter 425 –

A Different Kind

[28 Feb 2017 the full raw was posted.]

A English translation has not been found.
The images reveal a lot of text for thoughts and talking; no tennis played.
The chapter begins with Eichan’s body fitness sponsor watching the developments with excited interest (is a profitable marketing plan emerging with a rising new star named Maruo Eiichiro?).

The remaining part of the chapter has Eichan and coach Aoi traveling somewhere (a kick boxing studio to strengthen and weaponize Eichan’s willpower?)…

*** Today, 14 Mar 2017, V-cat posted a long translation for this chapter 425! ***
This is a must read, so I will not butcher it with a shorter summary, but here is the chapter’s conclusion:

[…] Ei-chan adds that the locations of the matches are scattered in various corners of different countries all over the world. A top pro travels around 120,000 km in a year while continuing to compete. Harada says he can’t imagine 120,000 km, so Ei-chan draws a comparison to going around the world 3 times. Harada’s so shocked he opens his eyes:
“Doesn’t that mean continuously fighting in numerous battles in 1 year?” Ei-chan replies that that’s what happens when you succeed in this world. Harada wonders whether it’s possible be an average person with that sort of schedule, even before doing things like improving skill and maintaining motivation. Ei-chan brings the conversation back to handling pressure, asking Harada to tell him more about how martial artists handle the pressure from fear. Harada wonders if that sort of topic is interesting, and Ei-chan replies that he’s extremely interested right now, so Harada says he has a good story.
End of chapter.


– Chapter 424 –

The Meaning of Victory

[ Today, 20 Feb 2017 I saw the chapter spoiler discussed, but I am having what appears to be internet servers being blocked from my computer! ]
The few graphics seem to show Yoshimichi congratulating and having a conversation with Eichan, another image with the Pete and Watanabe match is about to start, later Eichan is conversing with his mom and coach Aoi, and in another image Watanabe defeats Pete 6-4, 7-6 in hard fought consecutive sets.
I look forward to finding a solution to my malfunctioning computer (accessing the internet servers that are being blocked), then seeing and discussing the full raw chapter…

*27 Feb 2017, I read a translated summary for this chapter, and I encourage all who are interested in a translated summary version please read Vampirecat.
Eichan has difficulty dealing with not having a winning vision against Yoshimichi. Eichan is distracted with thoughts of the forfeited game while watching the start of Watanabe vs Pete match. Eichan eventually re-focuses on the match for clues into his next opponent in the semi-final round.
Coach Aoi was sitting beside Eichan to watch Watanabe (Taka) defeat Pete, coach Aoi apparently is concerned about how poorly Eichan is reacting to the disappointing Yoshimichi forfeit. Coach Aoi quickly dashed off to make plans – apparently, he has a surprise that can prepare Eichan for the next match.
End of chapter.

The teaser blurb says “Aoi’s tactic for the next match is?!”
The title for the next chapter is “A Different Kind.” –Vampirecat


– Chapter 423 –

Return from the Brink

I am a day early, 13 Feb 2017, but spoilers were posted on the internet today, and what a shocker in the discussion about this chapter!]

Yoshimichi is apparently examined and is in pain. Then Yoshimichi talks to the chair umpire, who then announces that Yoshimichi is defaulting the match due to his injury. -Vampirecat

The author, Katsuki Hikaru, chose an injury method to build up the drama for Eichan’s next match against another national team member. Once again Eichan will be the unknown underdog challenging the favorite, rather than the known dark horse. Obviously, I am assuming the highly ranked Watanabe will win his match against Pete. Regardless who wins between Pete and Watanabe, Eichan will be facing them as the vastly lower ranked unknown underdog.
I say I am not surprised, because I predicted (back in earlier chapter before Eichan defeated Wang Wei) a injury method for dramatic effect to keep Eichan as the true “surprise” underdog rather than the rising star dark horse phenom.
However, I feel sad for both Yoshimichi and Eichan because the tennis match meant so much to them and their competition was so intense!

I expect to add more after the full raw manga is posted to the internet.
However, as I was sharing a glass of wine, a thought surfaced about what could the author have planned for Eichan after a win by default – the first in Eichan’s pro career. He did win by injury default as an amateur against the artist, but what valuable lesson could Eichan learn from Yoshimichi, the “mother” of Japanese Tennis?

Today, [15 Feb 2017 6:48 AM eastern] chapter 423’s full raw was posted and translated with a summary.
There really is not much I wish to add, except for details of how Eichan was feeling cornered and determined to find a confident way to overcome Yoshimichi’s skilled Tennis as if it was a barrier or test. Eichan’s failed attempts in placing his strongest strokes into 4/100 square target leaves the reader with the impression of Eichan’s evolving Tennis is improving, but he hasn’t perfected it and we look forward to that.
Coach Aoi tells Eichan’s mom that when perfected, Eichan may be able to leverage his fast reaction and control to hit strong shots down the sidelines for a awesome weapon.
Yoshimichi’s thoughts acknowledges coach Aoi’s assessment and concludes:

Ei-chan is a guy who becomes more dangerous the more Ei-chan is cornered, and approves: “I like that!” -Vampirecat’s translation

Yoshimichi wins the first set 6-2.
Yoshimichi approached the chair umpire to request a medical timeout, the doctor examines Yoshimichi’s right knee and Yoshimichi flinches. The umpire announces the match is awarded to Eichan because Yoshimichi is unable to continue.
[As a writer, I imagine filling in the gaps and holes in the author’s story: perhaps the reason for Yoshimichi’s earlier two matches extending to the full three sets was because Yoshimichi was cautiously managing the recovery from his injury? If so, then Eichan managed to push Yoshimichi to his limit and Yoshimichi did not hold back and re-injured himself.]

Apparently, Eichan is surprised and saw no hint of pain or difficulty in Yoshimichi’s performance. The blurb and title for next chapter hints that Eichan’s transition is incomplete because he did not overcome the Yoshimichi barrier, and is questioning the meaning of victory (or perhaps the title is merely pointing to Eichan joining the National team).


– Chapter 422 –

Special Skill”, or a Level-Up for Eichan?
[05 Feb 2017 Today the spoiler was posted, I will wait for the raw manga to be summarized…]

*Moments ago (08 Feb 2017, 4 AM), I saw the full raws posted and read V-cat’s translated chapter summary.
The images show a very intense game with the audience feeling it too!
The chapter begins with the umpire calling Eichan from his concentration in his tennis notebook, “Player Maruo, can you hear me? It’s time.
A stunned Eichan leaps from the bench to apologize, then dashes to the court.
The match score is Yoshimichi ahead of Eichan, 5-2.
The audience reacts in a mixture of laughter and amazement with Eichan’s concentration in his tennis notes – did Eichan find a winning vision in his notes?
Yoshimichi has a stunned look on his face, thinking that Eichan isn’t emotionally dejected, but rather Eichan has raised his level of concentration!
Eichan prepares to serve, having set his determined willpower to not run away, he boldly decides to challenge Yoshimichi to a risky game of faster reactions.
Eichan serves wide and sprints to the net!
[ From there the game gets more intense, read the translation and see the images, it is great! ]

Both players are attacking boldly and Yoshimichi’s strong strokes are difficult for Eichan, but the score is 40-30 favor Eichan. Eichan’s service game is being challenged and he thinks to himself that he needs a more fundamental offensive weapon…
What winning strategy can he believe in?
Eichan mentally divides the court into smaller squares to target a block of four squares at the sideline.


End of chapter.

– Chapter 421 –

Decisive Blow
[30 Jan 2017 Today the spoiler was posted.]

The discussion revealed the score at 5-2, Eichan is trailing in the first set. There is the possibility Eichan can turn the match around and win in straight sets.
At the end of the chapter, he was concentrating so hard he didn’t hear the chair umpire call time.”
Did Eichan strategize a winning vision?

*[The raw manga was posted. The full summary was translated by Vampirecat.]
Chapter 421 opens with the umpire announcing the 7th game score: 0-15 in favor of Eichan, with Yoshimichi serving.
Later, Eichan is frustrated as Yoshimichi maintains a exceptionally high level of motivation and strong determination to win the next 4 consecutive points and the game. Game Yoshimichi 5-2!
The chapter ends with Eichan so immersed in recording game-events and thoughts into his tennis notebooks that  he failed to notice time expired to resume the match.
End of chapter.

The blurb for the next chapter is “What will he discover with the extreme focus produced by the crisis?!”
The title for the next chapter is “Special Skill.”

*** Some of my thoughts about this story ***
My anticipation for the release of the next episodes usually have me guessing at the hints to imagine how the author decided to conclude the story. Eichan is expected to surprise the tennis audience with a upset victory over Yoshimichi, the question is how?
Eichan is frustrated by the better play from Yoshimichi and is lost in deep contemplation to find a solution!
Yoshimichi is a great representative for Japan’s National Tennis Team and takes his career very seriously with honor. Eichan has realized that deep commitment coming from Yoshimichi and has a desire to represent the Japan National Team.
Yoshimichi is considering to retire when the next generation comes with a higher level of play than his own. In effect Yoshimichi is saying by his actions “Eichan, you can do this – show me your best effort!” Yoshimichi was nicknamed “mother” because of his nurturing behaviour. Therefore I see this match between Eichan and Yoshimichi as a important nurturing game to reveal Eichan’s latent talent.

I do not know much about the game of Tennis so the strategy the author choose to reveal is not certain, yet I think it is important that Eichan now knows he can win at the net and Yoshimichi avoids his weakness at the net!
Eichan must disrupt Yoshimichi’s rhythm and confidence by making Yoshimichi realize it is difficult to avoid playing at the net. My guess is Eichan’s drop shot will become very important in the next game. Maybe Eichan will get into the zone with faster reactions and confidence?
Perhaps Yoshimichi will have his confidence shattered if he realize he is working too hard to avoid Eichan’s stronger play at the net. Or the author may introduce the injury, or a new Eichan strategy, or a “special skill” – I am still curious about the music and rhythm Eichan used to prepare for the match…

That concludes my thoughts about this Yoshi-Arc and we may have to wait months to discover how Eichan defeated Yoshi.
PS: Where is Natchan?! -03 Feb 2017

– Chapter 420 –

[23 Jan 2017 spoiler was posted today, the full raws have not been posted]
I am told Yoshimichi held his serve and broke Eichan’s serve once, (apparently the 4th level expression with power strokes confuses Eichan), first set score is 4-2.

The chapter ended with Eichan wining the first point in the seventh game: 15-0.

*[28 Jan 2017 Now that the full Raws have been posted  I have seen the images and I think Eichan decided to attack with his best skills by attacking at the net!
Yoshimichi serves…
Eichan deployed a surprise drop ball to the net. Yoshimichi frantically catches up to return it, but Eichan is at the net to hit the ball cross court. Now the next image surprises me because it is confusing how the next frame show Yoshimichi return that ball, but that is what the images show. They both are at the net returning quick volleys!
This is Eichan’s great innate skill, eye-hand coordination, and Eichan hits a winner to the far-away line for a momentum changing counter point!]


– Chapter 419 –

[16 Jan 2017 spoiler was shared, and something is delaying the full Raw posting.]
This peek at the chapter is very sketchy, apparently Yoshimichi revealed a 4th power stroke with a facial expression very similar to a regular stroke.
Yoshimichi confused Eichan and became the first to hold serve, 3-2!

Holding serve is a surprise, but if Yoshimichi revealed his full range of skills (and limits) so early in the 1st set gives Eichan an opportunity to formulate a winning strategy.

*[28 Jan 2017, I have now seen the full Raw chapters 419 & 420 with images but a translated summary is still not available.]

– Chapter 418 –

[10 Jan 2017, the Japanese Raw manga was posted.]
The chapter reveals the two players’ thoughts about that last point from the previous chapter.
Apparently they both are going to increase their level of play to their max.
This caused Eichan to double fault on his final serve (in an unusual attempt to only serve aces) and lose the game – first set is tied again at 2-2.
The crowd roars in excitement!

Eichan’s mom voices her perplexed concern to coach Aoi in the bleachers…
The tennis match continues with Yoshimichi serving.
Eichan returns Yoshimichi’s serve and intentionally sets him up with a forehand slice that is expected to be countered with Yoshimichi’s “for Japan” power-shot.
Indeed, Yoshimichi hit the “for Japan” power-shot as Eichan anticipated. Eichan quickly moved back from the baseline (surprising Yoshimichi) and moved into the shot, scoring the point with a backhand power-shot deep down the outside line!
Yoshimichi prepares for his next serve, exuding an intense emotional aura while puckering his lips he serves his “for Japan” power-shot!
Eichan notes the pucker-lips and barely returns, a rally game is underway, but all of Yoshimichi’s strokes are “for Japan” power-shots – until Yoshimichi snarled with teeth bared hit a “for Japan” mega-shot for the point!
Game score tied at 15-15
End of chapter.

– Chapter 417 –

[27 Dec 2016 The Japanese Raw Manga was posted, a day later a summary was posted.]
The chapter opens with the announcement of the score: Game, Maruo: 2-1.
Audience’s excited reactions: “Maruo breaks again!!” and “What’s with this exchange of breaks?!

The players sit on the benches for the short rest. Eichan thoughts consider he was barely able to break and if Yoshimichi’s ball had been 5 cm higher, he wouldn’t have been able to react. Yoshimichi had also countered Ei-chan’s forceful attack with two consecutive game-clinching (for Japan!) shots. Eichan writes in his tennis journal while Yoshimichi drinks…

This chapter share a lot of internal thoughts from Eichan and Yoshimichi, such as:
Eichan thinks that even though Yoshimichi’s facial expression gives away his super attack, it is never the less an effective winner stroke, in the class of number 2 world rank Sanchez!
Yoshimichi is easy to read, but Eichan’s challenge is to impose limits when Yoshimichi uses it as a counter-attack, and Eichan also considered he can get into Yoshimichi’s rhythm like when he had returned his serve with a winner.

Yoshimichi thinks Eichan is a young gem for Japan, having benefitted from being surrounded by a fine environment. Yoshimichi considers STC as the fine class with good facilities, coaching staff, world class players, and it is no mystery how Eichan over-came the limitations of his physical body —so there’s merit in knocking him down!

As the game progressed Yoshimichi’s motivation and will power was put in high gear with more (“for Japan!”) winner shots. While simultaneously Eichan gained insights from each game point he lost, and Eichan gets closer to overcoming Yoshimichi’s “for Japan!” winner stroke by unleashing his own will power and sense of duty for Japan. Eichan is determined to represent Japan and join Souji and Takuma in Wimbledon!

Ei-chan wants to play in Wimbledon with his sense of duty for Japan!
The above image is Eichan’s flashback motivational memory, and his latent willpower – this revelation came after the Wang Wei match, Eichan had a smartphone video consultation with Mike Maguire (sports psychologist at IMG).

The chapter’s conclusion:
Eichan serves wide.
Yoshimichi puckers his lips as he prepares to return the ball.
Eichan sees this, but Yoshimichi’s “for Japan!” is a return winner anyway.
Score: 0-40.
The audience is in an uproar:
There it is! Is Yoshimichi already fired up?!“; “When Yoshimichi gets going, you can’t hold him back!“; “C’mon. Break! Please, Mr. National Team!

End of chapter.
The teaser blurb says “Can he overcome it…the sense of duty of a member of the national team?!” The title for chapter 418 is “Latent Strength.”
For chapter details read Vampirecat’s translated summary.

If the translation accurately conveyed the author’s meaning, I interpret the vibe implies the first to hold serve will likely win the set. This dramatic cliff-hanger ending to the chapter probably mean:

  • The obvious cliff-hanging drama-tool could be more than merely to hook the reader’s interest for the next chapter – WILL the game be won by Yoshimichi or Eichan?
  • Yoshimichi started his other two tournament matches with 1st set loses, which implies a possibility he has a mega-shot or latent ability we have not seen, yet!
  • If Eichan lose this game, as he is poised to, then this could be a hint that Yoshimichi will show all his high-level skills!
  • If the 16 year old Wang Wei taught Eichan a valuable lesson in their match, then this Yoshimichi match is likely to unleash Eichan’s latent abilities – I certainly hope so.

We have to wait until January 2017 to find out if Eichan will come back to snatch this game or 1st set from the jaws of defeat. I wish to see Eichan win this service game by tapping into the depths of his willpower to make a fantastic comeback from 0-40!
But, that is probably my over-simplifying the plot with wishful thinking.
[The early fast pace of this 1st set is a joy to see, and to read that Eichan is already exploring the depths of his fighting spirit and willpower was a surprise. Maybe this Yoshimichi match will be a shorter arc with the wrap-up soon after Eichan grasps Yoshi’s strategy limits. That would be sad, because I already like Yoshi’s character as much as Araya’s, but Eichan must advance to the Semi-final round.]

– Chapter 416 –

The raw release was posted today, 13 Dec 2016.
As always I am thankful for Vampirecat and her chapter summaries translated from the Japanese Manga.

The title for this chapter is “Clear-cut” or “Unequivocal.”

This chapter is strategy rich and focused on both competitor’s efforts to read and dominate the other.
The opening page begins with reviewing what transpired thus far.
Apparently it is a rare tennis event for both competitors to open a match by breaking each other’s serve for a 1-1 tie.

Eichan’s mom exclaims that Yoshimichi tied the score immediately.
Coach Aoi thinks to himself: Eichan scouted Yoshimichi thoroughly, but Yoshimichi is the type of opponent that instinctively bulls his way to winning points using his national team pride and fighting spirit. Eichan may over-analyze Yoshimichi’s strategy and not realize the straight forward simplicity.
“Aoi concludes that it’s a matter of which player can grasp his opponent’s tennis first.”

Eichan’s thoughts reveal that he has not grasped how or when Yoshimichi will hit those “Do It For Japan Winner Shots“.

As tennis play continues, Eichan thinks that he was again beaten with a unexpected strong shot, even though he had the advantage!
Eichan has amazing vision and he noticed Yoshimichi pucker his lips before each single-shot winner…
Eichan is “flabbergasted that he can tell when the showdown will come from Yoshimichi’s expression right before Yoshimichi hits the ball.”
Eichan couldn’t see the “signal tell” from watching recorded videos, but on court it is obvious.

From then on Eichan focused on Yoshimichi’s facial expressions.

Yoshimichi realizes he’s being read in a big way, but he dismisses it with “So what?!”
And wallops the ball with roar.
Ei-chan’s shocked to see the ball heading right at him.
As he flinches, the ball hits the net
… –Vampirecat’s translation

Eichan manages to break Yoshimichi’s serve again, score 2-1 in favor of Eichan!
*[This chapter is so fiercely fought that I am now more confused as to why Yoshimichi’s last two matches had him losing the first set. Does Yoshimichi have another powerful strategy for a second set?]


– Chapter 415 –

The raw release was posted today, 06 Dec 2016.

Japan’s National Team Mother
[Oh – translation problem is showing up! Apparently the title is really referring to Yoshimichi’s nurturing sentiment to make Japan’s national team the best it can be, as he nurtures or “mothers” Watanabe on the team, one fan translated:
“Yoshimichi also appears to be very interested in Eichan’s progression and helping him along. Hence, his concern for getting the best out of the others is why he is the “mother.” He helped Watanabe when they were playing doubles in Davis Cup.”]

The chapter opens with the conclusion of the first game won by Eichan defeating Yoshimichi’s serve 1-0.
The players change sides and Yoshimichi reviews Eichan’s game with great insight and determination. More details about Yoshimichi are revealed from the comments by Youko (Yoshimichi’s wife), and Watanabe.
One obvious observation is the images focus on Yoshimichi’s leg & feet speed and strength. Leading the reader to speculate if the old injury will return, or how will Eichan find a way to neutralize Yoshimichi’s leg-strength advantage.

Watanabe explains the wonderful comradeship Yoshimichi brings to the national team along with his optimistic and encouraging presence.

The chapter concludes when Yoshimichi broke Eichan’s serve to tie the 1st set with a game apiece 1-1.

[So far, Yoshimichi doesn’t appear to have a slow start in the 1st set, hopefully the dialogue will explain why that is.]
The teaser for the next chapter says “Can he overcome him…this guardian spirit of Japan?!


– Chapter 414 –

Today, 30 Nov 2016, we finally see the raw release!
[I have decided to retain the textual thoughts I had prior to this chapter release, even though it may potentially be confusing and redundant. I wish to look at the predictions and thoughts I had prior to the conclusion, and chronicle that progression.]

The first two pages are in color!
The set begins with Eichan ready to return serve, and thinking that Yoshimichi is of the same generation as Monma (second ranking national team member), with the game-technique that pin down opponents using ground strokes. Conversely, Eichan thinks that he is of Ike’s generation (Ike is the top Japanese player), that sets out to win (by directly challenging?) first.
[Interesting possible interpretations of nuanced meaning about tennis strategies, apparently Eichan has found Yoshimichi’s rhythm (strong/fast legs) and plans to disrupt it…]

Yoshimichi’s wife, Youko, and Watanabe are watching and providing insightful commentary.
After dramatic back and forth points for both players, Eichan surprises himself and breaks Yoshimichi’s service game: 1-0 !

Among the audience’s raucous cheers, coach Aoi and Ei-chan’s mom look impressed.
[I am surprised that Natchan is still missing the start of her boyfriend’s important match. Some readers are discussing if Yoshimichi’s injury is playing a role?]

Next chapter is expected to begin with Eichan’s service game.

The teaser for the next chapter says “The absolutely stable Japanese barrier he wants to overcome in one stroke!”
The title of the next chapter is “A Japanese Mother” -Translation by Vampirecat


Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 414
Video posted 30 Nov 2016 by SportsManga

A Japanese Mother” (The translator returned later to say that title is for the 415 chapter, and this chapter is “Energetic” or “Upbeat“.
∞Thoughts & Questions prior to Chapter 414:

– ¿What is the reason for Natchan missing the start of her boyfriend’s QF match?
Would be nice to see Eichan’s Mom and Girlfriend together cheering, where Natchan can explain Eichan’s new rhythm technique. It would be humorous for Natchan to let it be known she thinks Eichan sings well, and we get to see the surprised expression on Eichan’s mother!

– ¿The sports media, Japan national team coaches, and sponsors are missing – when will they arrive for this Keiryo Challenger?
At least begin to pester Eichan before the semifinal match and don’t wait for the Final round game. Their thoughts and reactions would be valuable. Coach Maeda (head of Japan’s national team) should have another encouraging dialogue with Eichan, if they ever arrive. I think this is the 4th day for the Main draw.

¿Will Eichan defeat Yoshimichi in 2 consecutive sets?
Yes, I Think so, and his mother should be impressed too!

Eichan (18 years old, 1415R) vs Yoshimichi (30 years old, 178R, Japan National Team member)

– Chapter 413 –

Eichan is poised to earn his position on the national team!

30 year old Yoshimichi vs 18 year old Eiichirō

🙂 Yea – my wish for a focus on joining the national team was answered!
The Japan RAWs were posted today, 15 Nov 2016.

We see all the faces for the current national team and Eichan’s intense gaze of determination to join them!

Coach Aoi walks in with a surprise for Eichan, a ice cold bath…
Coach Aoi reveals he was on the national team for a short period until his injury, and he shares a lot of motivational information for Eichan to do his best to join the national team – this is a very big deal!
Coach Aoi and Yukichi are both committed to propelling Eichan to the next professional level!

Krishna is shown practicing with Eichan, Krishna has a prominent presence in this chapter (may be a hint that they will face each other in the championship game) Krishna reveals he studies all highly ranked players (world rankings below 200) and he believes Eichan will defeat Yoshimichi.

Eichan’s mom arrives and greets coach Aoi in the bleachers.
Coach Aoi tells her that Eichan’s success in advancing into the round for the Best 8 players in this Challenger is a big deal.
Mom replies she still can’t believe Eichan has a career as a professional tennis player!
Eichan's mom greets Aoi in the bleachers. Coach Aoi tells her that Eichan's success in making it squarely into the round for the Best 8 in this Challenger is a big deal. Mom replies she still can't believe Eichan has a career as a professional tennis player!
Eichan is sitting alone wearing earbuds, getting mentally prepared for the game by listening to music (what kind of music?).
The chapter ends with a confident, friendly Yoshimichi shaking hands with Eichan to begin the QF match.
Yoshimichi prepares to serve.

Baby Steps manga fans stated the next episode should be available on 30 Nov 2016.



*See wikipedia_ATP_Rankings

ATP rankings points distribution keiryo challenger
I am new to the subject of professional tennis, please help me learn how the point ranking system works, especially for this Keiryo Challenger.
My introduction into the point system was back when Vampirecat’s summary (CH 392) stated that Maruo wanted to WIN the Keiryo Challenger to get the 100 points.
I interpreted that to mean the total points possible for winning the Keiryo Challenger, and the absence of further details with no mention of cumulative points per round, probably means players are awarded points based on their finish.
Wow, the ATP is very stingy with the points!

If the point chart layout is not cumulative per round, then the loser claim these points and the final winner claims 100 points:
5(Q Rnd); 8(R16 Rnd); 18(QF Rnd); 35(SF Rnd); 60(F)/100(W) = Total pts at the finish!

[I hope chapter 413 is centered on this match and Maruo’s thoughts about attaining membership on the National Team’s A squad alongside Sōji Ike and Monma – Japan’s #1 and #2 pro players.
I also would like to see some reactions from the sports media, coaches, and sponsors about Maruo’s rapid advancement. I expect this match will be detailed over several chapters to come. Thus, I would like the author to include Maruo’s scouting notes on Yoshimichi, similar to Nabae’s scouting notes. How did Maruo scout Yoshimichi?
Did Maruo ask Nabae for information, or was it all from video records?]

Today, 14 Nov 2016, a spoiler peek showed us:
1. Sōji Ike
2. Monma
3. Kouno
4. Watanabe
5. Takuma
6. Yoshimichi (Eichan’s opponent, and likely to lose to Eichan)
7. Haketa (he already lost and likely to be dismissed from the A-team)

1. Nabae
2. Takeshita

Yoshimichi’s Arc Begins!

Above is the challenge that Eichan has to earn membership on the National Team by defeating Yoshimichi – This Is Exciting!

Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 413
Video posted 17 Nov 2016 by SportsManga

– Chapter 412 –

8 Nov 2016 (good distraction from U.S. elections)…released Manga Raws today!

Ei-chan (18 years old, 1415R) vs Isobe (24 years old, 811R)
Eichan won in straight sets: 6-2, 6-2, advancing to the QF round!

The victory effectively awarded an additional 18 points – Eichan’s current (if he was to lose now) total is 22 point – catapulting his world rank into the 700s.
[While that is hopeful, it is not good enough, he must advance to the finals! LOL, that’s how I see Eichan’s winning vision.]

Eichan is studying the tournament brackets in the players room, his QF round opponent will be Yoshimichi. The winner will earn a place on Japan’s National Team, a major goal for Eichan.
Yoshimichi notices Eichan and informally waves to him. Ei-chan responds with a (nervously?) quick formal bow.

[I note the Tournament brackets showed that Yoshimichi’s matches were all 3 sets, and he lost the 1st set in each match. I wonder if Yoshimichi’s tendency is slow starts, or was it a smoke screen because Yoshimichi was developing a new technique too?
If Yoshimichi was perfecting a new technique, then this 3rd Round may be another very detailed match in this Keiryo Tournament Arc.]


Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 412
Video posted 8 Nov 2016 by SportsManga

– Chapter 411 –

Ei-chan arrives at STC as the practice session between Natchan and her junior ends.
Natchan says it is okay for the junior to remain, but after watching the fond closeness during Natchan’s instructions for Ei-chan the junior feels like a intruder and excuses herself and hurriedly says goodbye!
The author shows how considerate and thoughtful Natchan is with Ei-chan. This romantic bonding also demonstrates that Natchan has acquired some of Ei-chan’s attention to detail.
After sharing earbuds to listen to Samba music and rally to the rhythm, Natchan further surprises Ei-chan when she offers him a second miniature music player as a gift for him to continue rhythm training for all his competitions.

Natchan instructs Ei-chan in Rhythm training.

The next chapter is expected to be the R16 round of the Keiryo Challenger!

Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 411
Video posted 2 Nov 2016 by SportsManga

– Chapter 410 –

A very long Wang Wei Arc pitted Ei-chan (World Rank 1413) against the very talented, and younger Wang Wei (World Rank 310) – a younger Chinese rising star athlete.
After many details about Wei were revealed, Ei-chan was the eventual victor in a tie-breaker game that concluded a hard fought two set match (7-5, 7-6).
This was a major victory, Ei-chan gained great experience and confidence in advancing to the “Sweet-16” round of the Keiryo Challenger!

After Ei-chan defeated Wang Wei, coach Aoi completed Ei-chan’s physical rub-down treatment commenting that Ei-chan’s muscles accumulated a lot fatigue and it is fortunate that he doesn’t have a match tomorrow and can allow his body time to recover.
They exit the players’ clinic, Natchan calls for Ei-chan’s attention, saying that the next match has somehow turned into something great. Ei-chan comments it’s the match that decides his next opponent.
Together they watch the Russian Kirilenko (4th seed, 21, world rank: 137) lose to the Japanese Isobe Shunsuke (24, world rank: 811)… Natchan commented that she had the impression Isobe had matched Kirilenko’s rhythm. Ei-chan agrees, adding he had the feeling that Isobe somehow got into the rhythm and overcame his suffering…

Okada is also in a close contest against Minami (22, world rank: 254) with the score at 6-2, 7-6, 6-5 in Minami’s favor.
Ei-chan notices Okada’s footwork and agrees (with Wei’s earlier comment) that this way of playing—not moving back, the use of a rising shot, the attack position—is quite close to Ei-chan’s current style, and thinks that Okada seems to get to the hitting position much more smoothly than Ei-chan.
Okada lost the very close match, final count: 6-2, 6-7, 5-7.

Ei-chan befriends a annoyed Okada, then politely and patiently handle the irritated Okada to disclose the details of Okada’s new training that includes Samba dancing to master rhythm and improve his tennis.
Ei-chan and Natchan agree to meet tomorrow, perhaps for some rhythm training?
-There is much more details translated, see Vampirecat’s summary.
Samba Music and rhythm training!

Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 410
Video posted 26 Oct 2016 by SportsManga

The Wang Wei Arc ends!

– Chapter 409 –

Ch.409 opens with the audience surprised that Wei had committed an error with such a slow ball.
Coach Aoi is amazed that Wei and Ei-chan are reading each other to such extreme depths.
Coach Olivier suspects Wei’s composure had expired.
Ei-chan is elated that he was able to force Wei to commit an error at this most critical moment, allowing Ei-chan to reach match point.

Wei’s analysis was that Ei-chan had thoroughly resisted Wei’s competitive shots. Wei had been fine with both of them at their respective baselines and they’d been deadlocked. Then Ei-chan had hit that unexpected lob. Not only had Ei-chan sealed Wei’s strong point (waiting until the last moment to decide what shot to use), he’d attacked Wei’s weak point (forcing him to decide with very limited time?).
The crowd cheers encouragement to Wei: he can still hold and turn things around; it’s still tiebreak.

Wei tells himself Ei-chan’s strategy won’t work a second time… Wei can still win.
Wei serves, Ei-chan wasn’t able to touch the ball.
However, the serve was judged a fault, the ball had bounced well into the doubles’ boundary lane.

As Wei prepares to serve again, he exhales deeply.
Ei-chan notes this is the first deep breath Wei has displayed that wasn’t part of his routine.
Wei tosses the ball, and Ei-chan decides to suddenly attack here.
Ei-chan rushes forward to the baseline as Wei swings, taking Wei by surprise.
Wei hits the ball, then realizes he’d applied too much of a spin to it.
Ei-chan pulled off a fast return winner.
Game, set, and match won by Maruo; Count: 7-5, 7-6.

The crowd goes wild: Finally – Maruo got away! – A 1000s ranker defeated a 300s ranker! – The exchange of drop shots was too amazing! – The way they were reading each other was seriously nerve-wracking!

Ei-chan’s in disbelief that he’d defeated Wei. A tired and despondent Wei raises his head to the sky, then looks over to the other court and sees an elated Ei-chan.
The audience applauds the two with a pair of college girls commenting that the two players are still in their teens and are players to look forward to.
Yoshimichi (7th seed) overhears the comments and thinks that this enthusiasm at a first-round match of two players who both came up through the prelims is more than he’d expected.
This Challenger is a path that the top players in the world have to pass through. It’s a place where the ability to make it to the top might defy common sense. It’s a tennis that attacks the opponent’s vital spot with strategy, using their brains and sensitivity freely to the greatest extent, despite their slender physiques.
It’s a match that tempered the raw material of both players.

Ei-chan and Wei shake hands.

Yoshimichi turns his attention to two courts on the other side where Pete (world rank: 294) seems to be overpowering his opponent, Haketa (member of Japan’s national team, world rank: 215), with a powerful forehand shot, and Krishna (world rank: 195) is doing the same with his opponent… Read Vampirecat’s summary translation.


Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 409
Video posted 18 Oct 2016

…I apologize for skipping the Wang Wei Marathon Arc, but the Keiryo Challenger is getting much more exciting now!

WANG WEI Chapters 395 – 409
[PS: Let me explain why I  was frustrated with the Wang Wei Arc. Writers’ plot limitations already revealed that Eichan would defeat Wang Wei, so I saw the additional background flashbacks for revealing Wang Wei’s awesome superstar abilities as the writer’s failure. If she has the need to develop Wang Wei for future chapters the time to do it was in the earlier chapters when Eichan lost to Wang Wei. Recall that Eichan lost to Wang Wei two or more times already! Or she could wait for future tournaments to reveal more background flashbacks to develop Wang Wei as the emerging superstar from China. As it was, she only managed to distract us from this current major plot thread that has Eichan advancing to join the Japan National Team in his attempt to win this Keiryo Challenger, and this the Keiryo Challenger’s very 1st round no less!
So losing in the opening round was not a good story plot option, and focusing on developing the awesomeness of a minor character in this crucial, but totally predictable, scene was a unnecessary distraction at best or a very boring diversion from the story at worse.]


Maruo Advanced Through Qualifying Rounds!


– Chapter 395 –

Prepare yourself for the brutally long marathonWang Wei Arc“!

{I apologize, I may skip the Wei Arc because it was a frustratingly boring arc. Perhaps later I will include the chapters after Wei becomes important in future chapters.}

Eichan advances from the qualifiers to the Main Draw.

His 1st round opponent is Wang Wei (with improved world ranked 310), but we notice other familiar characters:
Krishna (8th seed, world ranked 195);
Pete (world ranked 294);
Watanabe (6th seed, world ranked 161, member of Japan’s national team);
Yoshimichi (7th seed, world ranked 178, member of Japan’s national team who forfeited to Ei-chan in the All Japan Championship).

Wei greets Eichan and comments that Ei-chan also made it through the qualifiers. Ei-chan congratulates Wei, who replies that his match had ended sooner, so he watched Ei-chan’s match and states that Ei-chan’s tennis has changed and asks if something happened?
Ei-chan explains that this year he went to Wimbledon for the first time and had gotten motivated, which might have been beneficial.

Wei asked who is that Japanese guy? Wei points at Okada, explaining that when he watched him earlier, Okada had hit nothing but rising shots at the baseline, and it was Wei’s first time seeing such a thing. During all this, Okada’s fanning himself and complaining about the heat, but he overhears the conversation and is surprised he isn’t being insulted. Wei asks if Ei-chan is also aiming for that sort of style. Ei-chan replies it’s kinda different, but thinks to himself that Okada’s tennis might serve as a helpful reference for his new aggressive technique.
Then, Pete and Krishna come to greet them…

Later on we see Yoshimichi greeting Watanabe, where Yoshimichi pranks that his injury is not healed. When Watanabe see the joke he is irked, and said to leave off such jokes since the Davis Cup is coming up. Yoshimichi apologizes, but points out that if it would cause trouble for the national team, he would duly report it. He’s completely cured and his tuning is flawless… the two of them have an advantage. The national team members have to win.
Watanabe thinks he absolutely can’t lose in order to continue competing as a national team member and in order to make another attempt at Wimbledon.
Begin the Wang Wei Marathon Arc

– Chapter 394 –

Eichan defeats Arber 6-3, 6-4 with his new aggressive defense position.
The next day in the 2nd round, he defeats the qualifying round’s 2nd seed, Kawagoe (JTA 17, world rank 427) 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.
Then on the 3rd day in the 3rd round for the qualifiers, Eichan defeats an Italian, Appiah (world rank 780) 6-3, 6-2.
…Read Vampirecat’s summary.

CHAPTER 394 Page 17

– Chapter 393 –

This chapter is a colorful treat with more pages!
Not only are we treated to color pages, but also to the promotional news that the TV soap opera version of Baby Steps is airing.

This is the 1st round in the qualifying draw to the Keiryo Challenger.
The match between Eichan and Arber begins, Arber is totally outclassed as Eichan experiments with his new technique for an aggressive strategy…

– Chapter 392 –

[This is a major, and complex chapter with many characters, the passage of time over a month, and several different scene locations.]

The opening page reveals Ei-chan’s grueling daily practices, 2-on-1 with Coach Aoi and Yukichi, and other exercise workouts at STC. According to Ei-chan, the Keiryou Challenger is a month and a half away. He is training intensely with his focus on the world pinnacle after comprehending how far he must climb to succeed. Ei-chan is happy with this knowledge.

One day, after completing training at STC, Natchan greets him outside!
She reveals her decision to attend the University of Georgia (UGA Bulldogs) and pursue the pro tennis circuit. The two walk hand in hand and Ei-chan congratulates her on making the Best 4 in the Ibaraki Open. He notes she’s been racking up a lot of pro points!
Natchan says she is focusing on U.S. professional tournaments. Ei-chan comments about the high level competitions there.

…The Keiryou Challenger is hosted by Keiryou University.
Wang Wei is the No.1 seed in the qualifiers, Wei greets Ei-chan, then Yukichi asks if Wei is an acquaintance of Ei-chan.
Wei comments in English that it has been a while… Ei-chan explains in Japanese that Wei had helped when Ei-chan was having difficulties in Futures overseas.
Ei-chan offers his latest notebook to Oobayashi, and stated his training program is in the latter half. Oobayashi flips through the pages, commenting that it’s as neat as ever.
Then he stops on a page about “The Shortest Route to the Grand Slams” (and reads the title aloud; it’s in Japanese), which outlined Ei-chan’s analysis to meet the requirements to enter the Grand Slam qualifiers.

Apparently Ei-chan must achieve world standing in the lower half  of the 200s.
A world rank of 230 requires a little over 200 points.
A straight-invitation to the main draw requires a ranking of below 100, which is around 600 points.
According to Ei-chan’s calculations, if he wins the Keiryo Challenger, he’ll pick up 100 points, bringing his count to 104 points and raising his ranking to the upper 400s.
Then if he finishes second (or better) in an ATP 250 tournament, that would be another 150 points, bringing his count to 254 points and raising his ranking to the 200s.
Or he could win 3 Challengers, etc. Anyhow, the point is Ei-chan needs over [250] points and the fastest way is to win this Keiryo Challenger and then enter a ATP 250!

Oobayashi marvels at Ei-chan’s analysis.
Ei-chan argues that it’s only based on the points system, and he simply tried writing out the process if he were to win it all.
Yukichi counters that Ei-chan is seriously aiming for it.
When Ei-chan confirms this, Oobayashi replies that he thinks Ei-chan might be able to [qualify for the Grand Slam] in 3 years.

[ Read detailed summary from Vampirecat ]
The chapter ends with Ei-chan greeting Arber and thinking confidently that he’s looking forward to playing against Arber again.
Natchan arrives to watch Ei-chan’s revenge match!

– Chapter 391 –

Simulating the World

[31 May 2016 Vampirecat posted a translated spoiler, later edited to include the full raw summary.]

Ei-chan enters STC the day after returning to Japan.
Both, Yukichi and Coach Aoi are surprised to hear that Ei-chan served as Sanchez’s practice partner.
Sanchez is ranked 8th in the world, and Yukichi is like Awed with Aniki!
Coach Aoi comments, that kind of experience was missing in Ei-chan’s game, and Ei-chan will put in effect from now on.

Ei-chan asks for the result of what he’d requested, and Coach Aoi said they had prepared it.
They walk to a platform with Coach Aoi noting it seems safe.
Down court, Ei-chan requests Yukichi to hit a spin serve, wide or center doesn’t matter. Yukichi tells Ei-chan it seems too high.
(Grueling practice continues, Read Vampirecat’s summary.)


The Wimbledon Practice Arc Ends!

– Chapter 390 –

Ei-chan, Monma, and coach Maeda discuss Sōji Ike’s match on their way to Takuma’s court.
Maeda said Max held back in the first half, so even though Ike geared up, Max matched him and took the fight to him. He prevented Ike from hitting his groove rhythm, and in so doing Max sealed the victory. Maeda says the match probably went as Max had predicted but Max had been surprised by Ike’s potential.
Monma agrees, noting that Max had guarded against Ike’s explosive power and had been pushed back, on the defensive, several times.
Ei-chan, surprised at being asked for his opinion, said it was amazing!
Even though Ike lost in straight sets, for a Japanese of the same age as himself to play confidently in this venue against the best tennis players in the world… he couldn’t even imagine up to now, and it suddenly became real!

Monma grins wryly and thinks the required inspirational switch clicked on within Ei-chan.
Maeda agrees that Ike’s play today was impressive and young players who saw the match, like Ei-chan, will aim for the world. By doing so, Japanese tennis will become stronger. Maeda encouragingly tells Ei-chan that it is now his duty to strengthen Japanese tennis.
Ei-chan’s expression looks like he feels the pressure to carry Japan’s honor.

They take the court seats along with Takuma’s parents before the start of Takuma’s match against the 18th seed German, Bastel Muller.
Takuma suffers a 1st Round loss in his first appearance in a Grand Slam main draw in straight sets: 7-6, 6-3, 6-4. Some minutes later, Kouno also loses.

That night Ei-chan has dinner with Asano, Takuma, and Kouno (Ike and Monma were missing).
Asano suggests Ei-chan stay one more day to watch Monma’s match, however Ei-chan wants to go home tomorrow. He is inspired and has a lot of ideas he wants to develop…


– Chapter 389 –

Return to the Top
Ike lost in straight sets: 6-4, 6-3, 6-3
Then Monma reminds Ei-chan time to go to Takuma’s match…

– Chapter 388 –

I think Natchan has amazing Tennis intuition, perhaps she is the author’s avatar and giving hints for what to expect in the future.

It’s 7pm in Japan, and Natchan is home, in front of the TV, preparing to watch Ike’s match.
She remembers that Ei-chan is also in the venue watching, and thinks that Sou-chan has finally made it to where he can compete directly with the world’s best.

Applause and loud cheers of “Let’s go, Max!” and “Ike!
We’re depending on you!” fill the venue, amazing Ei-chan.
Umpire: “Five-set match.
Souji Ike to serve.
Ready – Play!”

Ike smashes Max’s weakened return to hold his first service.
Game, Ike 1-0 !

– Chapter 387 –

Ike saw Ei-chan and Sanchez practice, and got fired up about playing the top ranked player in the world, who is now talking to Ei-chan!
The top ranked player is asking Ei-chan about Ike, but doesn’t know Ike is approaching from behind him…


– Chapter 386 –

Ei-chan experiences the best pro tennis in the world!
Before Sanchez’s practice is finished, he invites Ei-chan to play one game. Ei-chan’s heart pounds at the thought to have a practice game with Espino Sanchez, the No.8 in the world – this is amazing!
He never imagined playing a world top-level player on Wimbledon’s grass court. Sanchez wants to serve first.

Ike thinks that Ei-chan is a really interesting and funny guy, he will not go home just thinking it was merely a wild chance to hope for injuries and no shows to grant him a slim possibility to play in Wimbledon, even though he hadn’t been able to take part in the qualifiers…

Looks as if events will go as Natchan predicted.
Once Ei-chan has a sense of the distance to the top of the tennis world, he will begin to advance rapidly.

– Chapter 385 –

Takuma advanced to the main draw at Wimbledon, Ei-chan, Kouno, and Asano accompanied him to the venue.

Ei-chan marvels at the center court, a place he’s seen on TV.
Kouno comments that he’s excited even though it’s his second time. Asano adds that it’s a good thing they were able to get a pass allowing those who’d registered for the qualifiers to enter the practice courts. Ei-chan thanks Asano for it.
Asano says that this time, all 4 Japanese players will go up against seeds from the very start. Takuma’s opponent is the 18th seed, Bastel(?) Müller, a 28-year-old German.
Kouno’s is the 22nd seed, Richard Gronn(?), a 27-year-old Frenchman.
Monma’s is the 24th seed, Marcelo Garcia, a 19-year-old Spaniard.
And Ike’s is the 1st seed, Levina Max, a 25-year-old Swiss.
Ei-chan comments that Ike will finally challenge the world’s No.1. Asano agrees and adds it will be Ike’s first time in center court.
Ike isn’t yet among the Top 30, so he’s not seeded. But the way it’s turned out with him being able to play the 1st seed here, maybe they should say he’s lucky.

Later they are approached by a TV crew for an interview. Ei-chan recognizes them as announcers and analysts he has seen on TV…
Takuma grants Ei-chan a few hours of free time. Ei-chan overcomes his shyness and ask many individuals if they need a practice partner, after many rejections he is about to give up when someone asks him if would practice, because his scheduled partner couldn’t make it.
Gasp with awe – Ei-chan is having a dream come true!
His practice partner is ranked 8th in the world, Mr. Espino Sanchez from Spain – Ike was wondering why he couldn’t reach Ei-chan (Ike-kun was hoping to have Ei-chan to practice with), now Ike is like Why/How?!
Exchanging shots with Sanchez, Ei-chan thinks, “I was thinking anyone would do but…
I never imagined I would be asked by a world top pro! Moreover, gasp – beside me is Levina Max, the world No.1 tennis player!

– Chapter 384 –

Takuma wins his 1st match 6-1, 6-2, against Juan Pedrosa, a 26-year-old Spaniard world ranked 147 (46 higher than Takuma, which means Takuma is 193).

Takuma wins his 2nd match in straight sets. It’s in his 3rd match that he wins 6-4, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, against R. Diaz. So this means Takuma finally qualifies for the main event of a Grand Slam tournament—and Ei-chan doesn’t get called up to fill a slot. This was all to get Ei-chan fired up so that he starts aiming seriously for the top.

The Wimbledon qualifiers start. Takuma, Ei-chan, and Asano head to the grounds. Asano’s telling Takuma that although Takuma’s opponent has a higher world ranking, there’s no doubt Takuma’s better on a grass court. There’s no need for wait-and-see (apparently he’s advising Takuma to go on the offense from the start). If Takuma can play as he’d like, he’s sure to see results.
They get to the court, and Ei-chan and coach Asano get seated. Ei-chan comments that as expected of Wimbledon, even the qualifiers draws a big audience. Asano agrees and adds that it’s said advancing through the qualifiers is more difficult than winning 1st Round in the main draw. When Ei-chan asks if that’s right, Asano explains that unlike other Grand Slam tournaments, the venue of the main event is different from that of the qualifiers, so if you lose in the qualifiers, it doesn’t feel like you got to Wimbledon. Therefore, because everyone wants to stand on the courts of the main event, the qualifiers turn into desperate, intense matches.

– Chapter 383 –

Ei-chan travels to Wimbledon!

Excerpts from Vampirecat’s summary:
It’s the middle of June. Ei-chan thinks he’s had lots of opportunities to go abroad lately, but it’s been quite a while since he’d had such a long flight. He’d cancelled his planned participation in a Futures, and arrives in London 2 days after Takuma, just before the start of the Wimbledon qualifiers. He arrives in the room where Takuma is staying and bows his head deeply to Takuma, asking Takuma to put-up with him for just a little while. Takuma sighs and tells Ei-chan that if he would put down his luggage, then they’ll go without delay. Ei-chan is surprised and asks where they’re going. Takuma says to do laundry, then a meal. He’ll have Ei-chan do some chores, but first he’ll show Ei-chan around.

They go to the coin laundry. Then Takuma enters a shop and tells Ei-chan they generally take their meals there. Ei-chan marvels that there’s a Japanese restaurant nearby. While there, they are hailed by Asano. Ei-chan notices that Watanabe and Kouno Junpei (world rank: 153; JTA rank: 3; didn’t take part in the All Japan). He greets them. Kouno recognizes him as the Maruo-kun he’s heard about who has defeated these two (apparently referring to Asano and Takuma) with only 3 years of tennis experience. He asks how Ei-chan defeated them. Ei-chan stammers, at a loss for words. Asano tells Kouno to quit talking about that so suddenly. He turns the conversation to the Wimbledon qualifiers, which starts tomorrow. He orders them to enjoy it to the fullest. He announces that today, it’s his treat, so they’re to eat whatever they like.
Everyone thanks him.
Ei-chan asks Takuma when he started aiming for Wimbledon. Takuma says it turned out that way because he’s been playing tennis since he was a kid.
Ei-chan clarifies that he meant seriously aiming for Wimbledon. Takuma replies that it’s probably since the Australian Open 6 months ago. The main point is, it was when he’d participated in a Grand Slam qualifier for the first time.
Because the sense of distance to the world pinnacle seemed real. Then there’s also the recent French Open, where he lost in the qualifiers, which lit a fire inside him.

[Quick side note: most fans were thinking that Ei-chan would somehow get to play in this Grand Slam tournament. Instead something better happened!]

– Chapter 382 –

Ei-chan receives much needed outside help!
His tennis career is floundering below mediocrity, with no clear winning vision nor effective world tour strategy, while Nabae is currently planning to qualify for ATP 250

Thank you Sōji Ike, coach Asano, and the Japan National Team for coming to assist!
Coach Asano shows a particular interest in Ei-chan’s tennis career. After Ei-chan explain that Ike convinced him to register for Wimbledon and it is a good feeling, Asano then argues for Takuma to share a room with Ei-chan and allowing him to experience Wimbledon.

Vampirecat said:

Since Takuma’s turned into a strong player internationally, the tennis association is shouldering his campaign expenses, so with a big smile, Asano orders Takuma to cooperate and split the cost for the sake of a cash-strapped kouhai.
Takuma’s first reaction is a flat-out NO!
Then he amends this, saying he doesn’t have a problem with the pass, but sharing a hotel room with Ei-chan…

“Gosh, I loved all the bonding here. Nabae’s such a nice guy”…
Asano obviously wants to get Ei-chan into the B Team already so he can coach him – Asano look astounded while referring to Ei-chan’s notes.



– Chapter 381 –

[08 Mar 2016 Vampirecat posted a translated summary.]
The calendar is the end of March, and a great divide has the potential to become the bottomless pit!
Both Nabae and Ei-chan became “officially” tennis professionals, however Nabae is fully groomed to become a successful champion with major sponsors and trainers, while Ei-chan struggles in his search to secure sponsors and frugally manage travel expenses that simultaneously leaves him poorly prepared to compete in the foreign Futures’ tournaments.

The names of the players who turned pro this spring were listed in an April edition of sports news:
Araya (18yr, GITC); Nabae (18yr, Wilson); Nitta? (20yr, Takota); and Ei-chan (18yr, STC).

In late April Ei-chan travels to India and is defeated in the Futures 2nd round. He resumes training and in May he competes in Cambodia, only to face defeat in the 1st round!
Then in mid-June at a Futures in Thailand, he goes up against Wang Wei, the 16-year-old youngster ranked 776 in the world, in the 2nd round. Ei-chan had met Wei months earlier in the Australian and China Futures (Ei-chan has a good set of data on Wei). Never the less, Ei-chan is defeated 2-6, 4-6; and Ei-chan is visibly gloomy afterwards. [spoiler flash: later in the Keiryo Challenger the Wei marathon Arc reveals that Ei-chan was actually sick with diarrhea – Wei had wondered if Ei-chan was in bad physical condition?]
Ei-chan returns to his room and prepares to go home. He thinks there are many difficulties in overseas competitions. He ponders this, considers he is aware of the difficulties, and yet he hasn’t been able to get the results he wanted, Why?
He takes out his notebook and analyzes his play…
Then, Ei-chan’s phone rings – there is a text message from Ike: “Where are you now?”
Ei-chan replies: “I’m in Thailand. I just lost in the 2nd round of a Futures.”
Ike then voice-calls, and when Ei-chan answers, Ike said: “Long time, no hear. Pity about the match. Well, I have a friend in Japan who’s looking for a practice partner right now, you see. I’m currently in London, so I thought that if it’s convenient for Maruo-kun…”

The importance of Ike’s call has many aspects, some are:

    • Ike is already in expensive London preparing for the Wimbledon Grand Slam, which is 3 weeks from now!
    • Ike’s strong words convinces Ei-chan to register to participate in the Wimbledon qualifying draw (effectively as a standby should players fail to show or are injured)
    • Ei-chan returns to Japan to practice with Ike’s friend, boosting Ei-chan’s confidence.
    • The importance of focusing on immediate short term goals to reach the pinnacle, resonates with Baby Steps.

Ike successfully reminded Ei-chan that Wimbledon is our pinnacle!
The path Ei-chan is currently on is not looking favorable…
Begin here and scroll up ⇑


Tennis Careers Begin…

Return to the Top

















2 comments on “Keiryo Tourney Arc
  1. RonMamita says:

    Chapter 422: Special Skill

    8 Feb 2017 Today 06:40 AM V-cat translated:

    Ch.422 opens with Ei-chan considering his notes and telling himself to discover an offensive option where he can play in a typical (to him) manner, an option that would be a basis for his getting the upper hand. Without that, he’d just be “running away,” no matter how hard he tries. He definitely can’t defeat someone here (on the national team level) that way. What’s produced results up to now are just attacks where he’d skillfully drawn Yoshimichi into a contest of reactions. Other than that…

    At that point, the chair umpire’s voice penetrates his concentration: “Player Maruo, can you hear me? It’s time.” Ei-chan jumps to his feet and apologizes, then quickly heads back on court.

    Audience reactions: Hahaha, he didn’t notice the call?; In which case, that’s amazing concentration, isn’t it?; Doesn’t it seem like he’s found something else? Yoshimichi’s taken aback. Not only isn’t Ei-chan broken at this point, he’s starting to ramp up his concentration.

    As he prepares to serve, Ei-chan plans to turn his serve into a contest of reactions. He’s uneasy about it but still decides to try it boldly. He serves wide, then dashes to the net to shorten the distance in the contest of reactions. Audience: “Serve and volley!” However, Yoshimichi anticipated Ei-chan and sends the ball down the line to take the point: 0-15.

    Audience comments: That’s an awesome return, you know; Before that, doesn’t it mean Maruo’s wanting to play at the net was exposed?

    Ei-chan, on the other hand, decides to capitalize on Yoshimichi’s correct prediction. He serves to the center—and again rushes the net, shocking Yoshimichi. Audience reaction: “He’s doing it right again even though he was beaten once…?!” Yoshimichi returns the ball to Ei-chan with a body shot. However, Ei-chan’s able to sidestep and volley. The shot’s a winner: 15-15. Ei-chan: “Yeah!” Audience: “Whoa! His reactions are good, after all!”

    Yoshimichi attributes the result to his hesitation over where to aim because Ei-chan’s move had been too surprising. He thinks that if Ei-chan finds even a slight possibility, Ei-chan digs his teeth into it and aims for it without letting go. He considers Ei-chan’s resolute behavior to be unusual.

    Since his rush to the net worked well, Ei-chan decides to capitalize on that one too. He serves wide, then rushes forward. Noticing Ei-chan’s movement, Yoshimichi thinks Ei-chan is doing that a third time in a row, and refuses to allow it. Then Yoshimichi’s surprised to see Ei-chan falling back and stopping at the baseline. Yoshimichi returns the serve but realizes he was tricked and the ball might be a bit short…and Ei-chan will aim for the chance right away. Ei-chan hits a strong backhand crosscourt to take the point: 30-15.

    Yoshimichi thinks Ei-chan’s good. The crowd cheers as Ei-chan strikes a triumphant pose. Audience reactions: He was tricked by Maruo’s tactics; A young gun is challenging a veteran player using strategy. Ei-chan’s mom looks encouraged.

    Coach Aoi sighs in relief, then comments that Ei-chan’s success in getting a point from his position could be big. Aoi thinks the end (future) might not be visible, but generally speaking, Ei-chan working on the point before him and taking things one step at a time—and that Ei-chan’s Ei-chan-ness is showing.

    Ei-chan serves, thinking that from here he has further options. He takes one step forward, so that he’s standing on the baseline instead of his ideal defensive position just behind the baseline. Yoshimichi wonders what Ei-chan intends to do when Ei-chan already faces difficulties even when he’s farther back. Yoshimichi returns the ball and a rally ensues.

    Ei-chan acknowledges the higher risk of his new position; however, it also increases the elements of a contest of reactions. The higher risk also means a higher reward. If a ball comes that’s even slightly short/shallow, he’ll turn it into a chance right away. It also puts pressure on Yoshimichi to hit deep. His analysis: shallow ball (turn it into a chance right away; can return it with faster timing); deep ball (it becomes difficult to return; the defensive distance contracts (the art shows him needing to use a rising shot)); out (by putting pressure on Yoshimichi to hit shallow balls, the chances of a ball going out increases). It’s a super-high-risk/high-return option.

    Yoshimichi hits another strong shot, mentally ordering Ei-chan to show him what Ei-chan can do from there (Ei-chan’s position on the baseline). The shot goes out: 40-15. Ei-chan thinks that if he takes the next point, he’ll hold his serve. Yoshimichi, on the other hand, realizes that result what also something Ei-chan was aiming for (inviting the error).

    Ei-chan serves, then steps forward, intending to play the point again on the baseline. Yoshimichi returns the ball, then moves back. Ei-chan notes the shift in Yoshimichi’s position and that the return was deep. Ei-chan sends the ball crosscourt.

    Yoshimichi thinks that with him further back, the physical sensation is the same as up to now and he can aim as he normally does. At the same time, Ei-chan thinks that with Yoshimichi further back, Yoshimichi’s defensive distance expands, so he expects Yoshimichi to attack boldly. He watches Yoshimichi closely, but Yoshimichi hits a super-strong ball to Ei-chan’s feet. Even though Ei-chan manages to hit the ball, it goes into the net: 40-30.

    Ei-chan dismisses the error as inevitable since he’s trying to attack Yoshimichi’s balls from right on the baseline while Yoshimichi is in good condition. Ei-chan serves to the center, still intending to try playing from his present defensive position. However, he tells himself it’s currently his service and he mustn’t accept such a risk on equal ground. As he chases the ball, he thinks that simply increasing his options is not enough. He needs a more fundamental…offensive weapon! In which case, what can he do now? What, in fact, can he believe in the most in himself right now? On the back swing, he sights Yoshimichi’s end of the court, mentally superimposes what’s apparently a 10 x 10 grid on it, and targets a block of four squares by the sideline (I suspect he’s going for a ball that escapes outside). End of chapter.

    The blurb for the next chapter says “The predicament simplifies his considerations?!” The title of the next chapter is “Return from the Brink” (or Recovering from a Hopeless Situation).

    Well, that’s it. So it seems that the flashback to Coach Miura’s words was the interpretation of the poster in mangakansou. There’s no mention of it in the actual chapter. However, that aside, a 10 x 10 grid shows amazing progress on Ei-chan’s part. I remember when a 9 x 9 grid (for 1/81) was the bleeding edge of his control. Of course, he’s “just” doing 4/100 here.

    Last edited by Vampirecat; Today at 07:00 AM.


  2. RonMamita says:


    I enjoyed Baby Steps in animé and manga formats.
    Baby Steps Love Triangle
    Apparently the series will end with chapter 455 during Maruo’s ATP 250 debut.
    In chapter 454 Alex showed up (with his sister Marcia love triangle with Natchan), and Alex was the one who wrote “From Baby Steps to Giant Strides” in Ei-chan’s notebook.
    This hints for Giant Strides and concludes “Baby Steps”.

    As some fans wish for a new manga series to continue Maruo’s story as Giant Strides, I prefer not.
    I wish the developers had included more depth and satisfactorily concluded “Baby Steps”.
    Too late for that now, so adapting it to animé would offer many opportunities to include things missing from the manga.

    Liked by 1 person

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