by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The top seed, Chen Meng beat Alina Arlouskaya of Belarus in four straight games (11-3, 11-8, 11-6, 11-6), whilst at the same time Chen Xingtong, the no.14 seed, overcame the host nation’s Szandra Pergel (11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 11-6).
Wins as seeding predicted; however the victory recorded by Che Xiaoxi in opposition to Russia’s Polina Mikhailova was not as statistics advised. Polina Mikhailova, the no.8 seed was beaten in five games (11-9, 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-4).
A surprise, in reality I would suggest it was not great upset; Polina Mikhailova is a most accomplished defensive player whose ability to attack when the chance arises has seen her make notable progress in the past three years. In January 2014 she was listed at no.116 on the Women’s World Rankings, she is now at no.42, having last year in June reached a career high of no.34.
However, against the backspin art, those who graduate to a place in the Chinese National Team are well groomed in combatting the defensive art.
Furthermore, I would also suggest that with more exposure to international competition, Che Xiaoxi would occupy a top 20 World ranking. In 2011 she won the Girls’ Singles title on the ITTF World Junior Circuit in Chengdu, four years later in 2015 she donned the Women’s Singles crown at the Universiade in Gwangju, Korea.
Defeats for defensive players in the guise of Polina Mikhailova and Alina Arlouskaya but for the latter’s colleague, Viktoria Pavlovich, one of the very best in the art and twice the European champion, there was success.
The no.12 seed, she accounted for Poland’s Klaudia Kusinska (13-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9).
“Always, the first match is hard it took me two games to get a good feeling for the hall and the conditions. It was the first time I’ve played Klaudia, so I had to stay focused and do my best. Point by point I felt I was improving; with my attacking game I could keep her under pressure”, Viktoria Pavlovich after beating Klaudia Kusinska.
In round two, Chen Meng plays, Viktoria Pavlovich; Chen Xingtong faces Che Xiaoxi.