by Simon Daish
Laura Pfefer is the only Frenchwoman in a group of four contestants, and the 20-year-old did not disappoint after taking both of her opening day matches.
First up was a 4-0 victory over Belgium’s very own Lindsay De Vos, before coming from behind to defeat Mallika Bhandarkar (India) in five ends. But next up is the player who is sitting joint top of group 15 Mariia Tailakova (Russia), with a winner-takes-all scenario lying ahead for the two opponents.
Another French player lying on the cusp of the main draw is Audrey Zarif, who leads group 4 on games difference heading into day two.
Zarif got the better of Margo Degraef (Belgium) with a 4-1 scoreline, and is joined on two points by the Czech Republic’s Aneta Kucerova following her incredible 4-3 comeback win against Degraef having trailed 1-3 at one moment in the tie.
There was also success for Leili Mostafavi, Lucie Gauthier and Stephanie Loeuillette, who just like their fellow countrywomen Laura Pfefer and Audrey Zarif are only a single win away from advancing beyond the qualifying groups.
Japan is another country who will be happy with day one’s outcomes, as Saki Shibata, Mariko Takahashi and Yui Odono all won their encounters.
Shibata won the Women’s Singles title at the recent 2016 Czech Open and has taken the first step on her journey to replicating that result in De Haan at the 2016 Belgium Open, beating Croatia’s Ida Jazbec in straight games. Takahashi set Dutch competitor Tanja Helle on the way to her eventual elimination with a 4-0 victory of her own, and the right result against Rita Kertai (Hungary) tomorrow will put her name into the next round.
Making her World Tour debut, Yui Odono has made an impressive start to the competition by claiming wins over Mercedes Nagyvaradi of Hungary and Ukraine’s Ievgeniia Vasylieva in group 14, and the dream of progressing beyond the qualifying groups is looking more and more likely for the Japanese star.
“I am very happy with my two wins. It’s my first World Tour tournament and I am enjoying this new experience. My goal is now to qualify for the main draw” – Yui Odono (Japan).
Four players representing Italy also took part in the preliminary round and it was day of mixed fortune for the Italians participating in De Haan.
Debora Vivarelli arguably put in the best showing for the country with a 100% success rate in group 8, having played one match and winning it against Shuohan Men (Netherlands).
Giorgia Piccolin won her opener against Nathalie Marchetti (Belgium) but lost her second match against 2016 Chile Open champion Rachel Moret (Switzerland), leaving Piccolin’s chances of progression in doubt.
The two Italian competitors who registered losses on the opening day were Chiara Colantoni and Le Thi Hong Loan.
Tuesday 20th September: Women’s Singles – Qualification Stage