• Inui’s Notes: Middle School Rep Selection

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    Welcome to a new edition of Inui’s Notes. Today I would like to talk about the middle schoolers that were selected as Japan reps a few months ago back in New Prince of Tennis 131. Back when the chapter first came out I’ve seen a lot of people think that the selection doesn’t follow any pattern at all, but I feel like there is some logic to it.


    For starters, let’s take another look at the order in which the MSers were chosen:

    1. Atobe
    2. Yukimura
    3. Shiraishi
    4. Sanada
    5. Akutsu
    6. Tooyama
    7. Marui
    8. Fuji
    9. Niou
    10. Ishida
    11. Oishi
    12. Kite
    13. Kirihara


    I’ll discard Ryoma at 14 because he’s basically that far down for the suspense, realistically he probably would’ve ended up as No. 4. For the rest, you will notice that I’ve divided them into three groups – you could describe Blue as the winners, Green as the losers (in descending order) and Red as the doubles partners.


    To go into a bit more detail, it’s probably fair to assume that the coaches generally think of the HSers as stronger than the MSers, so matches vs HSers count for more. Furthermore, the HSers are ranked based on their position, so playing against someone of higher rank is worth more than playing against someone of lower rank.


    This is reflected in the order within the groups, Atobe beat No. 9 and No. 10, Yukimura beat No. 11 and Shiraishi beat a 3rd court doubles. In the second group, Sanada and Akutsu lost in the 5th match, Tooyama in the 4th match and so on. Now you’ll probably notice that this isn’t entirely consistent; Niou technically also won the 9/10 match, Kite played alongside Marui in the 3rd match in the G10 challenge and Kirihara was Shiraishi’s partner in the team shuffle – the most likely explanation here is that while the team won, the coaches considered them losers on an individual level.


    Niou wasn’t able to play any more after the 1st set, so in a best of 3 sets match, that can certainly be seen as insufficient. In Kite’s case, you may remember that everyone else in the green group eventually pushed their opponents to unleash their full power, but Kite didn’t manage to do that. Kirihara’s the most tricky one of the bunch to explain, but I would assume that since he only evolved thanks to Shiraishi, those contributions may be attributed to Shiraishi as well in which case Kirihara is left with a 0-4 score and being unable to control his temper.


    With those explained, the next issue that is probably going to raise a few eyebrows is the group of Fuji, Niou and Ishida. Not only did Fuji not even participate in the G10 challenge, but Niou also played in the 1st match whereas Ishida was in the 2nd one. Now, first of all, while it is true that Fuji didn’t play in the challenge, he did face a G10 level opponent at full strength, namely TnK!Tezuka – it is evident that the coaches consider him to be on that level by the way his profile comments are worded in the Vol 10.5 fanbook. This order only implies that the coaches considered Tezuka to be stronger than Watanabe and weaker than Oni which doesn’t seem implausible.


    If you accept that assumption, it also explains why Niou is ranked above Ishida. Due to the match order alternating between singles and doubles, if Tezuka is assume to take Watanabe’s place as S4 in a way, the next lowest singles spot would be below the 9/10 doubles.


    This should cover the first two groups pretty well, so what about the third one? It seems that these three players were chosen because their doubles partners (Niou, Marui and Shiraishi) had already made the cut and the coaches probably wanted to keep those teams together when possible. What’s noteworthy is that these three were chosen in reverse order of their partners, so Niou who has the lowest spot of the designated doubles players got his partner first whereas Shiraishi got his last. This makes sense if you consider that Shiraishi, being higher ranked, may rely less on his partner than Marui or Niou.


    Finally, the last question some of you may have is why those who participated in the revolution matches against the bottom half of the 1st string weren’t chosen. After all, we concluded that wins count the most even if they are against lower ranked opponents (see Shiraishi’s spot as No. 3) and all of those guys won their matches. While this is a valid point, I believe an important factor is that all of the Black Jersey matches were unofficial ones as mentioned by Mitsuya in New Prince of Tennis 55, so they probably weren’t considered as a result.


    This is it for this edition of Inui’s Notes. It got a bit long today, but I hope you were still able to make it through it and it was more or less understandable. Thanks for reading.

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