by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Li Fen, crowned European champion in Schwechat in 2013, is presently listed at no.134 on current World Rankings, He Zhuojia has no such status; however, that situation is rather more technical than realistic.
Notably on the 2015 ITTF World Tour, He Zhuojia was the Women’s Singles runner up in Pyongyang; she was beaten at the final hurdle by colleague Sun Chen.
“I think the key moment was the “Time Out” in the third game when I up 9-8; my coach told me that I was more stable than my opponent and that I should focus on playing in a positive manner. Now I’m looking forward to the next match.” He Zhuojia
Success against expectations for a notable visitor, there was also success contrary to predictions for the host nation, the players to raise the eyebrows being Leonie Hartbricht and Timea Peterman-Varga. Ranked no.424, Leonie Hartbricht beat Kim Vermaas of the Netherlands, named at no.263 (5-11, 13-11, 11-6, 7-11, 13-11, 11-9); Timea Peterman-Varga, ranked no.303, overcame Alina Nikitchanka of Belarus, listed at no.268 (8-11, 11-5, 7-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5).
“I feel I played well after having lost in the Under 21 event, I was ready for the challenge, I moved much better than in the morning. I got the tactics right with my coach. I am really happy with the result.” Leonie Hartbricht
Certainly, the result was a marked improvement on her Under 21 Women’s Singles performance earlier in the day when in the opening round, she had been beaten in straight games by Hong Kong’s Minnie Soo Wai Yam, the top seed (11-6, 11-7. 11-8).
Disappointment for Alina Nikitchanka on what proved an afternoon of mixed fortunes for Belarus. In addition Nadezhda Bogdanova was beaten by Israel’s Nicole Trosman (11-7, 11-9, 11-4, 8-11, 11-4); conversely, Katsiaryna Baravok accounted for England’s Kelly Sibley (10-12, 11-9, 11-5, 10-12, 11-7, 11-6). Presently in the global order Nadezhda Bogdanova is named at no.269, Nicole Trosman at no.285; Katsiaryna Baravok stands at no.319; Kelly Sibley at no.196.
Meanwhile, occupying the no.347 spot, Croatia’s Ida Jazbec defeated Hungary’s Mercedes Nagyvaradi (8-11, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-8), listed at no.199, whilst equally impressive Serbia’s Tijana Jokic, more accustomed to life on the ITTF World Junior Circuit, defeated Slovakia’s Barbora Balazova (7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-9, 7-11, 11-6). Tijana Jokic has no current Women’s World Ranking; Barbora Balazova is listed at no.90.
“It is my second senior competition I was very focused through the match. It was a big match. She is a tough opponent; point by point I played better and better. I’m very happy with the result.” Tijana Jokic
An eye-catching performance from Tijana Jokic; it was the same from India’s Divya Deshpande as it was from Italy’s Li Xiang. Both upset the odds. Divya Deshpande beat Belgium’s Lisa Lung (8-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-6, 12-10), Li Xiang accounted for Egypt’s Yousra Helmy (11-5, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6).
Currently on the Women’s World Rankings, Divya Deshpande is named at no.352, Lisa Lung at no.204; meanwhile, Yousra Helmy is at no.123, Li Xiang has no such status.