by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Listed at no.278 on the current Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, she accounted for Italy’s Le Thi Hong Loan, named at no.252 (11-7, 11-7, 13-11), before causing an even bigger upset by overcoming the Czech Republic’s Kristyna Stefcova, at no.117 the highest rated player in the first phase of proceedings. Zhang Wanling emerged successful in five games (8-11, 11-3, 11-6, 8-11, 11-7).
Progress to the main draw and to line up alongside the top 16 names in the competition necessitates Kristyna Stefcova to beat Le Thi Hong and rely on lady luck. Players finishing in first places in each of the 14 groups plus two “Lucky Losers”, drawn at random from the second places players, advance to the knock-out rounds.
A main draw place assured for Zhang Wanling, it is the same for Croatia’s Sun Jiayi, the recent winner on the ITTF World Junior Circuit on both home soil in Varazdin and in the Slovenian town of Otocec. No current world ranking, she accounted for Poland’s Julia Szymczak (11-7, 11-5, 9-11, 11-8) and Italy’s Veronica Mosconi (5-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-4). Presently on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, Julia Szymczak is named at no.206, Veronica Mosconi at no.174.
Two surprise first place but other than for Kristyna Stefcova, the leading names are on course; for Italy’s Georgia Piccolin, Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus, it was one match played one success.