25 Apr 2017

Winner at the initial two Challenge Series tournaments of the year, staged in Belarus and Thailand, Japan’s Hitomi Sato seeks to make it three in a row.

Currently listed at no.9 on the Women’s World Rankings, she is the top seed at the forthcoming 2017 ITTF Challenge Slovenian Open in Otocec; play starts with the qualification tournament on Wednesday 26th April.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Furthermore, the player she beat in both finals and with whom she won the Women’s Doubles event in Bangkok, is also in action.

Compatriot Honoka Hashimoto is also on duty, she is the no.5 seed in the Women’s Singles event; whilst together they are the Women’s Doubles top seeds.

Sandwiched in between the two Japanese stars in the order of merit are Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm, Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and Hungary’s Georgina Pota.

Striving to climb one step higher is the undoubted goal for Matilda Ekholm. Earlier this year she was the Women’s Singles runner up at both the Swiss Open and at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour India Open. In the former she was beaten at the final hurdle by colleague, Li Fen; in the latter by Sakura Mori, like Hitomi Sato and Honoka Hashimoto from Japan.

However, the 34 year old Swede has enjoyed success; partnering Georgina Pota, the top step in the Women’s Doubles event was secured in New Delhi. Once again they are together, in Otocec they are the no.2 seeds.

The latter stages in Switzerland and India for Matilda Ekholm; it was the same for Georgina Pota. In the former, she reached the semi-final stage, like Matilda Ekholm losing to Li Fen; in the latter it was a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Hong Kong’s Ng Wing Nam.

Notable performances, for Elizabeta Samara, the situation is different. It is a first appearance of the year on the international scene having recently undergone surgery.

Also, it is a first international appearance of the year for Russia’s Polina Mikhailova; she is the no.6 seed in the Women’s Singles event being ahead of Austria’s Sofia Polcanova and Thailand’s Suthasini Sawettabut; the players who complete the top eight names.

Sofia Polcanova has yet to make her mark this year; a first round exit at the hands of Doo Hoi Kem was the outcome at the Seamaster 2017 ITTF World Tour Qatar Open in Doha.

Meanwhile, Suthasini Sawettabut is very much a player in form; at the recent Seamaster 2017 ITTF-Asian Championships in Wuxi, she beat Hong Kong’s Doo Hoi Kem in the third round before losing to China’s Ding Ning.

Challenge Series 2017 Slovenian Open 2017 Seamaster Chile Open Hitomi Sato Slovenia

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