by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
However, for Zdena Blaskova, it was a close call. In her opening contest she was beaten by Norway’s Sarah Horgen in five games (3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 5-11, 11-5), before immediately recovering to overcome Poland’s Aleksandra Michalak in four games (11-7, 9-11, 11-6, 11-9).
Progress to the main draw in the balance; in the concluding contest, Aleksandra Michalak accounted for Sarah Horgen in five games (11-6, 11-13, 11-9, 2-11, 11-3); thus games ratio determined the outcome. The eventual result was first place for Zdena Blaskova (5:4) followed by Sarah Horgen (5:5) and Aleksandra Michalak (4:5).
Players finishing in first and second places in each group advance to the main draw; thus progress for Zdena Blaskova and Sarah Horgen; journey’s end for Aleksandra Michalak.
Eventual first place for Zdena Blaskova but lower down the order there were upsets as the leading players in the group experienced defeat.
Pride of place went to Bulgaria’s Ivet Ilieva, the crucial contest being the victory recorded against Chinese Taipei’s Chien Tung-Chien, the fifth highest rated player on duty. In a nail-biting contest, Ivet Ilieva prevailed by the narrowest of margins in a full distance five games duel (12-10, 8-11, 8-11, 14-12, 11-9).
“I think I didn’t play badly today. However I made some mistakes under pressure but eventually I ended up first place in my group. I had a very hard match against Chien Tung-Chien. I concentrated all the time and I was listening to the advice of my coach. I am not sure what tomorrow’s matches will bring but I will try my best to play well.” Ivet Ilieva
A fine effort from Ivet Ilieva, it was the very same from Hungary’s Veronika Menko, she accounted for Poland’s Katarzyna Wegrzyn, the sixth highest rated on first day duty. Most impressively Veronika Menko succeeded in three straight games (12-10, 13-11, 12-10).
“I felt good today, I played well and finished first in my group so that made me happy. Against Katarzyna Wegrzyn it was a close match but at the end the victory was mine. She put a lot of spin on the ball but I played positively; that gave me the win. My ankle hurt during the matches but I put that out of my mind, so fortunately it didn’t have any effect on my play.” Veronika Menko
Surprise first places, it was the same for Snezana Markovic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, as it was for Serbia’s Radmilla Tominjak, England’s Charlotte Bardsley and Lou Frete of France. Likewise it was top spot against expectations for Slovenia’s Katarina Strazar and Romania’s Mihaela Plaeasu.
Success for Mihaela Plaeasu, there was also notable Junior Girls’ Doubles success in partnership with Andreea Hudusan. At the quarter-final stage they ousted Hong Kong’s Lee Ka Yee and Wong Chin Yau, the top seeds (8-11, 11-7, 11-7, 11-5).
At the semi-final stage they meet the combination of Russia’s Anastasia Kolish and Croatia’s Andrea Pavlovic, the no.3 seeds; in the opposite half of the draw, Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku and Sabina Surjan, the no.2 seeds, oppose Chinese Taipei’s Cheng Ting-Ting and Chen Ying-Chen, the no.4 seeds.
The Junior Girls’ Singles and Junior Girls’ Doubles events will be played to a conclusion on Thursday 9th November.