by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Success for the 24 year old Italian meant first place in the group, a win against the odds but she was not the only player to end the hopes of a higher rated adversary in the contests between hitherto unbeaten players.
China’s Huang Yingqi, ranked no.221 overcame Hungary’s Dora Madarasz, listed at no.96 (11-5, 11-8, 11-9, 10-12, 11-7). Likewise Croatia’s Mateja Jeger beat Austria’s Amelie Solja (11-6, 11-7, 11-6, 11-7), Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya accounted for Slovenia’s Alex Galic (9-11, 11-8, 13-11, 11-7, 12-10), whilst Hungary’s Bernadett Balint stifled the prospects of Serbia’s Andrea Todorovic (11-3, 11-6, 6-11, 12-10, 11-3).
Currently, on the Women’s World Rankings, Amelie Solja is named at no.204, Mateja Jeger at no.116. Meanwhile, Alex Galic is at no.141, Sibel Altinkaya at no.192; Andrea Todorovic is rated at no.145, Bernadett Balint at no.189.
First place in the group against expectations; it was the same for the Chinese Taipei duo of Lin Chia-Hsuan and Huang Yu-Chiao, the former being listed at no.178 on the Women’s World Rankings, the latter at no.180. In the crucial matches to determine first places, Li Chia-Hsuan overcame the defensive skills of Sweden’s Linda Bergström, named at no.154 (12-10, 8-11, 10-12, 11-8, 11-2, 5-11, 11-8); Huang Yu-Chiao accounted for Hungary’s Krisztina Ambrus who stands at no.169 (5-11, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9, 11-2).
Surprise top places and there was one more; alas for the locals it was at the expense of the host nation. Ranked no.108, in the vital contest to decide first place, Dana Cechova was beaten by Ukraine’s Solomiya Brateyko, listed at no.225 (7-11, 11-9, 9-11, 13-11, 11-7, 8-11, 11-8).
First places secured, for two players with no current world ranking but from a country where excellence is the order of the sport, China’s Gu Ruochen and Zhang Zhao concluded their group stage contests unbeaten. Gu Ruochen beat Chinese Taipei’s Lee Yu-Peng (11-7, 11-6, 11-5, 11-6); Zhang Zhao accounted for the host nation’s Simona Slehobrova (11-6, 11-8, 11-4, 11-4).
Top spot in the group as realistically expected for the Chinese duo; with the exception of Maria Dolgikh, it was the same for the leading names on initial stage Women’s Singles qualification phase duty. Japan’s Saki Shibata and Miyu Maeda secured first places in their respective groups as did Poland’s Natalia Partyka and Katarzyna Grzybowska-France.
Likewise, it was top spot for Russia’s Polina Mikhailova, Viktoria Pavlovich of Belarus and Britt Eerland of the Netherlands.
Saki Shibata and Viktoria Pavlovich advance directly to the main draw; the winners of the remaining 28 groups compete in a preliminary round.