13 Aug 2017

Favourites for gold, Hungary’s Bernadett Balint and Szandra Pergel won the Women’s Doubles title at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Seamaster Nigeria Open in Lagos on the early afternoon of Sunday 13th August.

At the final hurdle, they ended the aspirations of the host continent; they beat Egypt’s Yousra Helmy and Dina Meshref in three straight games to arrest the title (11-8, 11-8, 12-10).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor

Success and a milestone for Bernadett Balint, always competitive on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, notably in 2012 reaching four Girls’ Singles semi-finals, it was her first ever title of any kind on either the ITTF World Tour or ITTF Challenge Series.

Meanwhile, for Szandra Pergel, it was her first ever such Women’s Doubles crown but not her first overall title; in 2012 she won the Women’s Singles events at the Challenge tournaments in Belgium and Croatia.

A partnership for the future and by winning in Lagos, they are only the third all Hungarian combination to achieve such a feat and the only such pair to win without the name of Krisztina Toth appearing.

In 2005 Krisztina Toth partnered Georgina Pota to success in St Petersburg but her greatest success was with the high thrown service expert, Csilla Batorfi. They won ITTF World Tour Women’s Doubles titles on no less than five occasions; they emerged successful in 1998 in Croatia, the following year in Qatar and Germany, before in 2004 succeeding in Singapore and in Chile.

Defeat for Dina Meshref and Yousra Helmy but it was their first excursion into such waters; for Dina Meshref it was one step lower than in 2015 when she had partnered Portugal’s Shao Jieni to gold but she could take solace from this year’s efforts.

It was the first time that an all Egyptian pair had ever reached an ITTF World Tour or Challenge Series Women’s Doubles final and only the third time for an African pairing.

Two years ago in 2015 Dina Meshref and Shao Jieni beat Nigeria’s Cecilia Akpan and Edem Offiong in the final; last year Cameroon’s Sarah Hanffou in partnership with Olufunke Oshonaike, experienced the same fate in Lagos, when losing to Russia’s Irina Ermakova and Olga Kulikova.

No African pair has ever won an ITTF World Tour or Challenge Series Women’s Doubles title; a challenge for Yousra Helmy and Dina Meshref.

2017 ITTF Challenge Lagos (Nigeria) Dina Meshref Szandra Pergel Yousra Helmy Bernadett Balint
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