by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The third step of the podium for Zdena Blaskova but it was in the event in Sochi, where she did not win a medal, that the she caught the attention.
In the Women’s Singles event in the first stage of proceedings she topped the group, notably beating Charlotte Carey of Wales, the highest rated player. Unbeaten in the initial phase, it was exactly the same in the second phase. Also organised on a group basis; the result to attract the attention was the victory over Daria Trigolos of Belarus, the no.5 seed.
Impressive performances, in the first round Zdena Blaskova continued her form into the main draw. She beat the Slovak Republic’s Tatiana Kukulkova before, in the quarter-finals, experiencing defeat by the very minimal two point margin in the deciding game when facing the champion elect, Germany’s Chantal Mantz.
A podium finish was denied in Sochi, in Hodonin, in the Junior Girls’ Singles event that must be the goal for Zdena Blaskova.
However, if it is to happen, at the very least, the form displayed at the Stag 2017 European Under 21 Championships must be repeated in Hodonin; she faces a quite awesome challenge from Japan.
Maki Shiomi, Miyu Nagasaki, Kana Takeuchi and Yuto Kato occupy the respective top four seeded positions; most importantly all four are no strangers to ITTF World Junior Circuit success.
At the end of 2016, Yuto Kato finished the year in top spot on the Girls’ Standings; Kana Takeuchi was next in line with Maki Shiomi in third place. Comparatively, Miyu Nagasaki finished in a lowly seventh place!
Miyu Nagasaki was the supreme bronze medallist. She departed matters in the semi-final stage in France, Sweden, Portugal, Chinese Taipei and Hungary.
No title, for her three compatriots it was different. Maki Shiomi won in Italy and Serbia; Yuko Kato emerged successful in France, Sweden, Portugal and Slovenia.
Meanwhile, Kana Takeuchi enjoyed just one win but that win has a special relevance, she emerged successful in the very first ITTF World Junior Circuit tournament of the year; just as this year, the Czech Junior and Cadet Open and just as last year staged in Hodonin.
She has a special like for the south Moravian air.