Keiryo Tourney Arc


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 translation and interpretations from others. If you see an error or better interpretation please share your comments. Thank you for being here.]

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. –babysteps.wikia.com

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 debut, 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 #1471 in the world, but he must achieve a world ranking in the lower half  of the 200s. A world rank of 230 requires a little over 200 points, and he is currently 176 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.

392-keiryou-tournament-winning-vision

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

Contents

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
CH384 –
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!
CH414 -Fast Tempo
CH415 -“A Japanese Mother”
CH416 –This episode is not yet published
CH417 –This episode is not yet published

[…Most recent chapter release]

Have Fun with the Keiryo Challenger Predictions


Maruo Eiichiro’s Winning Vision:

Defeated Arber Christophe 6-3, 6-4

16

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!
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Keiryo Challenger Predictions:

√ For the very fun of it, let’s predict 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 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!)
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 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!

SF)…Watanabe/Pete (no Pete rematch, want more drama for national team: Watanabe vs Eichan), I actually would like to see the Watanabe vs Pete match and note how a match against Eichan strategy would develop, anyway I predict Watanabe (or Pete if he should advance) will be defeated by Eichan. The reason I predict Watanabe will face Eichan is because the author made the conscious effort to write the national team member 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 other-side bracket where Watanabe has no potential for a match with Eichan unless it is the final round.
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. 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 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! (Eichan reaching this final game would be amazing; Baby Steps = a Eichan lost is the most popular prediction. 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)

keiryou-challenger-predictionThe 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.)
CH413_p12
WOW!
Now Krishna is offering Eichan encouragement: Krishna assures Eichan it’s okay, he can defeat Yoshimichi.
Surprised, Eichan asks why!?
Krishna is quiet for a moment, and then he smiles and says it’s purely based on his calculations…


Most Recent Chapters Are Below:

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

Latest Manga Chapters here:

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– Chapter 416 –

This episode is not yet published .
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– Chapter 415 –

This episode is not yet published .

A Japanese Mother
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– 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

CH414_p19

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 mbr)
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– Chapter 413 –

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

Yea! My wish for a focus on joining the national team was answered🙂
I viewed the Japan RAWs 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 information and motivation 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.

CH413_p17

 

*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 the chapter 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:
JAPAN NATIONAL TEAM:
A-
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)

B-
1. Nabae
2. Takeshita
CH413_p01

Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 413
Video posted 17 Nov 2016 by SportsManga
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– 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 – his 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.]


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Title: Raw Baby Steps Chapter 412
Video posted 8 Nov 2016 by SportsManga
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– Chapter 411 –

Ei-chan arrives 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 has become. 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 music player as a gift for him to continue rhythm training for all his competitions.

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
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– 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 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.
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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!

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CH409_p02


Maruo Advanced Through Qualifying Rounds!

395-bracket-maruo-adv-to-oppose-wei

– 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 if 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:
Okada;
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
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– Chapter 394 –

Ei-chan 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
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– Chapter 393 –

This chapter is a colorful treat with more pages!
Not only are we treated to color pages, but also to the news that the TV soap opera version 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…
CH393_p02
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– Chapter 392 –

…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 Eichan 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 Eichan 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!
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– Chapter 391 –

Simulating the World

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.)
03
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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…

390_p18
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– 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…
CH389_p14
_______________________________________________

– 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.

CH388_p01
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 !
CH388_p02
_______________________________________________

– Chapter 387 –


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

CH387_p05
_______________________________________________

– 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 ia 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 is not going 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.
CH386_p02
_______________________________________________

– 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 Eichan 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!
[…]
CH385_p02
_______________________________________________

– 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.
CH384_p03
_______________________________________________

– 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!]
CH383_p01
_______________________________________________

– 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.
CH382_p16

_______________________________________________

– Chapter 381 –

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 Eichan 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!
CH381_p08
The path Ei-chan is currently on is not looking favorable…
Begin here and scroll up ⇑

CH381_p03

Tennis Careers Begin…

Return to the Top


 

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