by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
An outstanding performance by Zhang Xuan, not seeded, she is presently listed at no.40 on the Under 18 Girls’ World Rankings, as opposed to Shi Xunyao, the no.5 seed in Riva del Garda and named at no.9 in the global order.
“I was super nervous before the match, because it’s quite tough for us Europeans to be able to compete against the Asians especially since it’s the World Junior Championships, the level is very high. In the first game, I thought to myself there’s really nothing for me to lose in the match and the pressure should be on her as she is the defending champion and would definitely want to play well this year. So I just stayed calm and played my game. I am in good form here. Last year I didn’t have to play the qualification and lost in the first round but this year, I started from the qualifications and I prefer that, it’s good warming up for me.” Zhang Xuan
Success against the odds for Zhang Xuan, it was the same for Chinese Taipei’s Su Pei-Ling who not only caused a surprise, she completed a most notable recovery; she fought back from three games to one to beat Russia’s Mariia Tailakova, the no.12 seed (6-11, 11-9, 6-11, 3-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4).
Great credit to Mariia Tailakova who gave her best and never wilted in her efforts but it was the very controlled manner in which Su Pei-Ling conducted herself that impressed. Facing possible defeat, there was no hint of panic.
“The European style is more aggressive; in the first four games I was too conservative. The umpire faulted Mariia, her coach was annoyed with the decision. I think that affected her; for me it was important to stay calm.” Su Pei-Ling.
Defeats for China and Russia, for Japan it was mixed fortunes. Mitsuho Kimura beat Romania’s Andreea Dragoman, the no.14 seed (11-7, 11-13, 11-7, 11-9, 11-7), Miyuu Kihara, the no.9 seed, lost to Archana Girish Kamath (11-8, 16-14, 6-11, 6-11, 12-10, 11-8).
“It was vital I was strong with the first ball and then I kept the ball on the table. She was good backhand, forehand, everything; it was really difficult to read her services, she made so many changes. Massimo, my coach, told me to keep calm.” Archana Girish Kamath
Impressive from Archana Girish Kamath, it was the same from Brazil’s Bruna Takahashi, the no.13 seed; she ended the hopes of Korea’s Shin Yubin (11-9, 11-4, 12-10, 11-8). It was success as expected but it was the manner of the performance that caught the eye, most assured.
“I’m pleased with how I played today, I felt confident. I was consistent and I received service well. She was good in the rallies, so when the opportunity arose it was important I took my chances. The most important stage of the match was the third game, I was down 8-10 but I was serving; she missed both services.” Bruna Takahashi
Impressive from Bruna Takahashi, it was also most impressive from the top four names.
China’s Sun Yingsha, the top seed, beat Poland’s Anna Wegrzyn (11-5, 11-1, 11-4, 11-2), compatriot, Wang Manyu, the no.2 seed, overcame the Czech Republic’s Zdena Blaskova (11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 11-4).
Similarly, Miyu Katu emerged successful, the no.3 seed, she ended the progress of Romania’s Elena Zaharia (11-1, 11-6, 11-4, 11-4), whilst Puerto Rico’s Adriana Diaz, the no.4 seed, accounted for Poloand’s Julia Slazak (13-11, 11-5, 9-11, 11-6, 11-6).
Meanwhile, Romania’s Adina Diaconu, the no.6 seed, beat Russia’s Anastasia Kolish (11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 11-1, 11-4), China’s Qian Tianyi, the no.7 seed, overcame Amy Wang of the United States (8-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7); Japan’s Miyu Nagasaki, the no.8 seed, ended the hopes of Romania’s Tania Plaian (11-4, 11-7, 11-5, 12-10).