by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The crucial contest was against Archana Girish Kamath, at no.37 on the current Under 18 Girls’ World Rankings the highest rated player in the group and the player to give Sun Jiayi, the most severe test.
Sun Jiayi emerged successful but only just; she needed the full five games to secure victory (6-11, 11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-8). However, the fact it was the only defeat for Archana Girish Kamath and second place in the group was secured, meant progress to the main draw.
Players finishing in first and second places in each group in ITTF World Junior Circuit tournaments advance the second phase.
First position contrary to status for Sun Jiayi; in four further groups there were unexpected names in pole position at the end of the day. Selena Selvakumar, like Diya Parag Chitale from India, topped her group as did Egypt’s Marwa Alhodaby, the Czech Republic’s Daria Cechova and Hong Kong’s Chau Wing Sze.
All remained unbeaten; all inflicted the one and only defeat of the day on the highest rated player in the group.
Selena Selvakumar overcame Serbia’s Sabina Surjan (8-11, 14-12, 11-7, 11-6; Marwa Alhodaby recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Chinese Taipei’s Wen Rue-Ling (8-11, 6-11, 11-9, 11-6, 11-6). Likewise, Katerina Cechova accounted for Marharyta Baltushite of Belarus (15-13, 10-12, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6), whilst Chau Sze defeated the host nation’s Ana Tofant (6-11, 11-5, 11-8, 4-11, 11-8).
Surprise names in first place but for the three players listed ahead of Archana Girish Kamath, it was top spot without due alarm.
Thailand’s Jinnipa Sawettabut, Chinese Taipei’s Su Pei-Ling and Amy Wang of the United States all finished the day without defeat and thus in first place in their respective groups.