by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
The first player to reserve a main draw place, in fact when matters concluded on the opening day of action she was only player to have reserved such a berth in a competition where there is little room for error. Only the players finishing in first places in each of the 13 groups are guaranteed a place in the main draw alongside the 16 seeds; the three remaining positions are filled by “Lucky Losers”, drawn at random by those who conclude the initial stage groups in second place.
Success against the odds for Kim Yedam, it was the same for the host nation’s Marie Maeson and Croatia’s Sun Jiayi.
Marie Maeson, like Kim Yedam a player with no world ranking, accounted for Alina Nikitchanka (11-5, 12-10, 11-5) but her progress is very much in the balance; in her opening match of the campaign she was beaten by Italy’s Veronica Mosconi (13-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-6). Presently listed at no.128 on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, Alina Nikitchanka meets Veronica Mosconi, named at no.184, in the contest that will determine the final order.
Two non-ranked players causing upsets in the group phase of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event and there was one more; although in realistic terms no surprise at all. The name in question is that of Sun Jiayi, she emerged successful on this year’s ITTF World Junior Circuit on home soil in Croatia and the following week in Slovenia. Additionally, more recently she was the Under 21 Women’s Singles runner up at the 2017 ITTF Challenge Polish Open.
Impressive performances but in her opening match against India’s Sreeja Akula, she was tested; she emerged successful in a full five games contest (7-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-6). A tough encounter but when facing the player named at no.157 on the current Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, the highest rated in the group, Austria’s Caroline Mischek, listed at no.148, life was less dramatic; Sun Jiayi prevailed in three straight games (11-7, 11-7, 11-1).
Sun Jiayi now meets Korea’s Yoon Hyobin in the concluding group stage contest; she beat Sreeja Akula (7-11, 6-11, 13-11, 11-6, 11-7) but experienced defeat at the hands of Karoline Mischek (11-5, 7-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-6).
Surprises but not for the top names on duty in the initial stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event; for Russia’s Kristina Kasantseva and Daria Chernoray as well as for Kim Vermaas of the Netherlands and Laura Pfeffer of France, it was one match played, one win.