28 Apr 2017

Somewhat untried and perhaps not quite in total harmony, the combination of Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and the Czech Republic’s Renata Strbikova emerged as the surprise Women’s Doubles semi-finalists at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open in Otocec, when play concluded on the evening of Friday 28th April.

Not seeded, they progressed but in a most perilous manner; close full distance five games contests were the order of proceedings.

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

In the opening round they accounted for the combination of the host nation’s Alex Galic and Switzerland’s Rachel Moret, the no.8 seeds by a three point margin in the deciding game (12-10, 11-9, 4-11, 9-11, 11-8).

A close call, the quarter-final success was even closer; the minimum two point winning margin was the outcome against Hungary’s Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel, the no.4 seeds (11-8, 4-11, 15-17, 11-8, 15-13).

Tense times but success; at the semi-final stage, Elizabeta Samara and Renata Strbikova meet Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato, the top seeds. In the opposite half of the draw the combination of Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm and Hungary’s Georgina Pota, the no.2 seeds, oppose Germany’s Chantal Mantz and Wan Yuan, the no.3 seeds.

At the quarter-final stage, Honoka Hashimoto and Hitomi Sato accounted for Chinese Taipei’s Huang Yu-Wen and Wang Yi-Ju, the no.7 seeds (10-12, 11-4, 11-5, 11-3); whilst Chantal Mantz and Wan Yuan overcame Russia’s Yana Noskova and Mariia Tailakova, the no.6 seeds (11-9, 11-9, 11-6).

Impressive quarter-final wins; it was the same for Matilda Ekholm and Georgina Pota; they ended the hopes of French qualifiers, Laura Gasnier and Audrey Zarif (11-3, 11-5, 11-3), the first round winners against Romania’s Irina Ciobanu and Camelia Iacob, the no.5 seeds (11-9, 11-3, 16-14).

The semi-finals of the Women’s Doubles event will be played on Saturday 29th April.

Challenge Series Elizabeta Samara Renata Strbikova

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