By Neha Aggarwal
“The City of Brotherly Love”- Philadelphia is ready to host the Seamaster 2016 ITTF Women’s World Cup at The Liacouras Center, Temple University. With the absence of players from China, this is the first time that a player from a different country will be crowned the winner of this prestigious event. The stage is set and the players are ready, all matches will be as exciting as ever!
The draw for the qualification stage has been decided. 11 players are drawn into 4 groups. Originally seeded number eight, Turkey’s Hu Melek pulled out of the competition at the last moment due to injury. Thus Korea’s Yang Haeun, initially at number nine, moved one place higher and is now at number eight in the seeding and Samara Elizabeth becomes the ninth seed. Action starts at 10:00am EST.
Group A: Samara Elizabeta (ROU), Shen Yanfei (ESP) and Wu Yue (USA)
At number 32 in the World ranking this month, Samara is definitely the player to watch out for in Group A. However, against Shen, she trails behind head to head 1-2 . Both the Europeans recently met at the 2016 ITTF Europe Top 16 in Women’s singles semi-finals where Shen knocked out Samara in straight sets. Thus, this world cup will be a challenger for Samara as she will have to battle left handed Shen’s quick attacks. Host nation’s Wu Yue, who is in her maiden World Cup appearance is high on confidence in the recent success in the last one year. Although she is ranked number 142 in the world, the Pan American champion, an all round attacker, is hoping to be her best on home soil.
Group B: Pota Georgina (HUN), Meshref Dina (EGY) and Dederko Zhenhua (AUS)
If one goes by the world ranking, Pota Georgina should sail smoothly in the qualification stage. Ranked number 34 in October World ranking, Pota is 86 places ahead of Meshref (world ranked 120) and 128 places ahead of Dederko (world ranked 162). Pota has never competed against Meshref at the world stage and only once against Dederko in Zen-Noh 2014 World Team Table Tennis Championship where she won three nil. Additionally, Meshref and Dederko have also never competed at the international arena. Nevertheless, with strong backhand openings and placements on extreme sides of the table, Pota seems to be an infallible opponent for the rest of the two.
Group C: Jiang Huajun (HKG), Polcanova Sofia (AUT) and Ruano Lady (COL)
World number 39, Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun is one of the most powerful backhand attackers in the women’s table tennis since a long time now. This World Cup, she starts her campaign against Colombia’s Ruano Lady and then against Austria’s Polcanova Sofia. Polcanova will have a tough challenge against Jiang. Her strong backhand attacks to Polcanova’s forehand will be a big challenge for the left handed attacking Austrian. Ruano Lady, ranked 223 in the world is all set to make her debut appearance at the Women’s world cup and looks determined to gain maximum exposure.
Group D: Winter Sabine (GER) and Zhang Lily (USA)
Zhang Lily is bursting high on confidence after her third round appearance at the Rio Olympic Games and a big moral boost after meeting President Obama at the White House. This is undoubtedly one match, where both the opponents, irrespective of their world ranking, will put up a great challenge to each other. Ranked 56 in the world, Winter Sabine is a powerful forehand attacker who loves to execute every stroke using her forehand. On the other hand, Lily Zhang is a quick on the table attacker who is also consistent with her defense. Thus, despite Zhang is ranked 44 places below Winter, she will be a tough nut to crack for the German.
Matches start at 10:00am EST, follow all action LIVE on ITTF.com/ittv.
Check out the players training before the competition begins!