by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Britt Eerland, who had been required to compete in the qualification tournament, accounted for the host nation’s Dora Madarasz, the no.16 seed in five games (11-9, 6-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-7).
Once again the 23 year old displayed her liking for Hungary; in 2014 when the tournament was staged in Szombathely, she reached the semi-final stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event.
A disciplined performance but if there was an effort worthy of that description, it was the determination and will-power displayed by Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm; in the words of Gergely Urban, who was closely watching every match it was “nerves of steel” that secured victory.
The late British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher was named the “Iron Lady”, now that title belongs to Sweden?
Eventually, Matilda Ekholm, the no.6 seed, recovered from a three games to nil deficit to overcome the defensive skills of Ukraine’s Ganna Gaponova by the very narrowest of seven games margins; the deciding game witnessing a dramatic finish. Ganna Gaponova led 5-3 when the players changed ends and then established a three point lead at 9-6; she did not win another point. Matilda Ekholm won five in a row to secure victory (9-11, 8-11, 8-11, 13-11, 11-3, 11-8, 11-9).
“Wow what a match I am so relieved now. The first three games, she played unpredictable and I could not cope with it at all; then my coach said after the third game you have to slow things down and if you need you play 100 balls on the table so I did and it worked”, Matilda Ekholm after beating Ganna Gaponova
Success as seeding predicted, it was the same for Singapore’s Zeng Jian, the no.3 seed as it was for Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin, the no.11 seed. Zeng Jian beat Romania’s Irina Ciobanu (11-5, 11-5, 11-9, 11-5); Yang Xiaoxin overcame Poland’s Magdalena Sikorska (12-10, 11-5, 11-5, 8-11, 11-5).
In round two, Matilda Ekholm faces Yang Xiaomin, Britt Eerland opposes Zeng Jian.