It’s time for a practice match with team Saitama Futaba! They are renowned for being five-time inter-high winners and absolute champions, and their third years are so good that they were off practicing with Seisho University instead. Hearing that sure didn’t fly very well with Yokohama Minato’s second/third years members. They felt Saitama Futaba’s coach was disrespecting them by underestimating their abilities, by indirectly saying they are not worth their third years’ time.
But sure enough, all of their opponents were very strong, but notably despite losing his match, Kouki fared pretty well against his opponent considering how close the match was (21-18). He could have lost by a larger margin.
While Yokohama Minato members were mostly being overwhelmed, it was still a great opportunity to identify precisely what everyone needs to work on, such as Kouki’s glaring obvious lack of stamina is something he will need to fix if he aspires to pursue greater heights.
Akira decided not to participate in the practice match to ensure the others would have the opportunity to practice against these strong players. Instead he focused on collecting data, which I think was a wise decision on his part. But it did make me happy to see the Coach Ebihara actually ask him if he still wanted to participate though!
Of all Saitama members, the one the look out for is second year, Date Haruomi. Supposedly he wasn’t as good in middle-school, but now he just defeated Hongo, who competes at the national level. As Coach Ebihara says, it’s invaluable that they were able to learn this before they faced him at the tournament. Now they know yet another player to keep close tabs on. But goodness… Date sure knows how to act like an obnoxious little bitch, putting off just about everyone. He has beef with Kento, mainly because he doesn’t understand why he chose to join a ‘weak’ team. Goodness, he would probably lose his mind if he knew the reason why Kento chose Yokohama Minato in the first place!
Thankfully, not all of Saitama Futaba players were obnoxious. Ryo and Shouhei were lucky enough to have an opponent who actually gave Ryo constructive feedback of what the two of them needs to figure out. Miyagi Ren (a first year) also made a point that Ryo has an interesting style, which seems to indicate that he too was able to identify Ryo’s potential. Unfortunately Ryo still doesn’t understand what makes his play-style so great, and at this rate it looks like he isn’t going to figure it out anytime soon.
But this did bring about a really interesting pattern that has been rather consistent with a lot of Yokohama Minato’s members. Most, if not all the players who were scouted or chose to join this team came for reasons unrelated to the team’s strength/tournament records. Kento it was love at first sight with Rika, for Ryo it was because his aspiration Kento, for Shouhei is was because he wanted to play doubles with Ryo, and the coach helped Yusuke get to this school because of some difficult circumstances in Hokkaido (I’m not sure if we’ll actually get his story, but they certainly piped my curiosity haha!). In short, it’s as Hongo says, it’s most like it was fate, and in the case of Ryo’s partnership with Shouhei for the doubles, simply put they were meant to meet, just like Kento and Yusuke.
Overall, I thought it was great how this episode continued to touch on some of the most important bases of Doubles teams. It’s important for the players to ensure they are able to equally keep up with each the best they can, and are synergized while doing so. Last week when Aoji crumbled under the pressure, he became the source of weakness for the opponents to exploit. This time we saw that through Kento and Yusuke’s doubles. Yusuke’s injury caused him to struggle to perform properly, almost costing them the match.
And compared to the way the twin’s episode was handle, I felt this week’s was a vast improvement, which includes the quality of the matches. (There was noticeably less recycled footage, and more dynamic plays, something I appreciate even if the quality dips, but I digress.)
It was great to get to learn more about both Yusuke and Kento, and what makes their partnership so special. While it can be argued they could’ve dug a bit deeper, I think it’s fine for its purpose, which was to really show us and the different sides of Kento we haven’t gotten the chance to see until now
For guy who has often acts like a haughty little shit, it was nice to see Kento’s more charming and protective side of him for an exchange. Though most of it was shown in the flashbacks, it is a side of him that Ryo and the first years haven’t really gotten the opportunity to experience so far. They were rather bewildered to learn Kento had insisted that he would wait for Yusuke’s recovery instead of finding a new partner when he had to take three months off to recover from his stress fracture. We also got to see he is quite protective of his partner, and won’t stand for any trash-talk against them. Do that, and not only would he make sure to verbally drag you, like that slick burn of: “And who are you again?” but also bite back on the court.
However, he will also call Yusuke out when he needs to, such as making it clear that he needs to properly take care of himself to avoid another scenario of a stress fracture or worse. By laying out the consequences of failing to do so (of not tolerating this mistake again), this is not only fair, but also to ensure that they are able to continue to be partners.
We also finally got the confirmed that yes, as we all suspected Kento likes Ryo’s sister. He fell in love with her at first sight through the school’s promotion posters, which was why he decided to attend Yokohama Minato. That’s how Rika earned the title as the ‘Goddess’ of the Badminton team–so now Ryo finally understands why Kento is so obsessed with his name haha. (Also poor Ryo had to awkwardly listen to the guys gush about his sister today). But another thing that’s worth noting about his admission to the school was that he applied through the entrance exams. So that means he isn’t necessarily bounded to the Sports or Academics recommendations like Shouhei and Ryo are.
Speaking of which, oh boy… Looks like Ryo’s grades might be coming back to haunt him next week. And if that isn’t bad enough, looks like he has gotten sick too! Oh boyyyyy…. Ryo having it rough!