And so Ei-chan has won his first competitive match against a seeded player.
There isn’t much I want to say about this episode. I thought it was really good, but not too much happened in it that it really needs much of an analysis or commentary. We picked up where we had left off last week with Maruo managing to hold serve at a critical moment so that Miyagawa wouldn’t get the opportunity to serve out the match. Following that trend, Ei-chan intelligently turned the tables a bit, and used Miyagawa’s next service game to understand his form and play style for the shots he usually plays – this is one of Ei-chan’s special talents. Since Miyagawa is rather single dimensional in that he just plays different two handed strokes, it doesn’t take much for Ei-chan to read him.
Armed with this knowledge Ei-chan drags the match into the tie breaker, which pretty much holds the same pattern of each of them holding their serves. I’d like to point out that Ei-chan was rather lucky that Miyagawa didn’t seem to be too good with returns, because he managed to hold his own serve pretty well, but we’ve never been given any indication that he serves excellently. The last time I remember something being said about Ei-chan’s serve, it was in his first competitive match when it had absolutely no power. I have no doubt it’s much better than that now, but I needed a bit of blind faith in his talent to believe he could hold all his service points. I’m talking specifically about the tie breaker here, I am, of course, aware that he could afford to drop the occasional point and still keep normal service games.
Getting back to how the match played out, Ei-chan’s crazy risk taking when on match point was just perfect. And what I loved the most about it was it didn’t actually work out at the time. Predicting a wide serve based off the data he had collected on Miyagawa, Ei-chan moved towards the edge in order to give himself room to return with a complete swing, and hence more power, so as to get a chance to control the point.
This crazy tactic did however shake up Miyagawa enough to double fault on his next serve, which meant Ei-chan now had the opportunity to seal the match on his own serve. With a bit of luck, and some self destruction from Miyagawa who now felt he needed to change to a more aggressive style to win rather than sit back and play like normal, Ei-chan managed to lob a shot. With Miyagawa unexpectedly at the net, this gave Maruo the win.
Ei-chan doesn’t yet inspire confidence, but he’s doing well. Now that he’s through to the next round, it’ll be fun to see which seed he comes up against next. From the preview it looks like there’s going to be some more training talk going on at the STC, so I’m not sure if that means he gets knocked out, or just that he has time before his next match (this is more likely). So far, I haven’t been left shaking my head at any of the developments in this show, unlike another sports anime in which a short athlete is accelerating across a volleyball court at physics defying speeds while hitting the occasional winner, and I hope it can keep it up.