October 22, 2021

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Oz ’14: One-hander in the wilderness

Walking around on the practice courts, we came across a player – a woman, no less – swatting a one-handed backhand.

She seemed young, and it was an interesting stroke, so of course hope was springing eternal that the most stylish of tennis strokes might not be dead after all, that someone in the next generation was making a move to keep it alive.

It turns out, of course, that the player, Miki Miyamura, wasn’t nearly as good as we thought, or as good as that backhand looked in practice.

The 28-year-old is currently ranked No. 335 in singles and No. 118 in doubles, is just slightly above her career highs in both.

Miyamura, who couldn’t even get into the singles qualifying, lost in the first round of the Australian Open doubles with partner Xinyun Han to Alison Riske and Madison Keys of the U.S. She has spent the entire year so far playing tournaments in Australia.

She has been playing pro tournaments for more than 10 years, and has amassed a total of $90,000 in prize money. You wonder how these types of players survive.

Her ITF tennis bio says she only started at age 13, and only played a total of four ITF-level junior matches. Wish we’d had time to delve a little more into her story and – most especially – how a player who comes from a country where so many players have historically hit two-handed off both sides could have had the imagination to come up with a one-hander.

Perhaps her father/coach wanted to turn her into Japan’s version of Justine Henin. If we run across her again, we’ll definitely ask.