by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
It was very much “let a thousand flowers blossom” in the words of the Chinese phrase that describes a scenario when different styles of play are in vogue; Ji Eunchae, Eka So and Manika Batra are all very different.
Ji Eunchae, a left handed attacking topspin player who excels close to the table, was the player to cause the biggest upset. She recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Japan’s Miyu Maeda, the no.5 seed, in five games (7-11, 9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-5); in so doing, she dealt a hammer blow to the hopes of her adversary gaining an invitation to the Seamaster, Qatar 2016 ITTF World Tour Grand Finals to be held in December in Qatar.
Prior to the start of play in Stockholm, Miyu Maeda was listed at no.8 (334 points) on the ITTF World Tour Under 21 Women’s Singles Standings; with the hosts eligible for one of the eight places, a top seven finish is realistically required.
Success for one attacking player, there were successes for two more of that ilk but not of the same breed. Manika Batra is also at her best close to the table but different in that she uses long pimpled rubber on the backhand.
Likewise Eka So, is a right hander like Manika Batra but she is a pen-holder, not a shake-hands grip player like the India. Also different is the fact that she utilises reverse rubber on either side of her racket.
Eka So beat Singapore’s Lin Ye, the no.6 seed (11-8, 11-5, 12-10), Manika Batra overcame Kyoka Kato, the no.8 seed and like Eka So from Japan (8-11, 12-10, 11-3, 6-11, 11-8).
Three notable defeats; in the remaining first round Under 21 Women’s Singles events, it was success as status advised.
Korea’s Choi Hyojoo, the top seed, beat Japan’s Mizuki Morizono (6-11, 12-10, 11-9, 14-12), the latter’s colleague, Maki Shiomi, the no.2 seed, overcame Germany’s Nina Mittelham (11-9, 11-3, 11-9); whilst Saki Shibata, the no.3 seed and also from Japan, ended the hopes of Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus (11-3, 11-9, 11-5).
Success for Japan and there was more success for the Land of the Rising Sun with Belarus once again at the receiving end; Sakura Mori, the no.4 seed and winner the previous week in Austria, accounted for Alina Arlouskaya (11-4, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8).
Meanwhile, in the one remaining first round Under 21 Women’s Singles contest, Romania’s Bernadette Szocs overcame Thailand’s Tamolwan Khetkhuan (11-6, 11-5, 11-8).
At the quarter-final stage Choi Hyojoo meets Bernadette Szocs, Eka So opposes Saki Shibata; in the opposite half it is Sakura Mori in opposition to Manika Batra, Ji Eunchae in opposition to Maki Shiomi.