17 Mar 2018

Tense hard fought contests but on the morning of Saturday 17th March status prevailed at the semi-final stage of the Women’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Polish Open in Spa.

Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, the no.4 seed, recovered from a two games to nil deficit to beat Korea’s Jeon Jihee, the no.8 seed (3-11, 9-11, 13-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-4), before the latter’s colleague, Yang Haeun, the no.4 seed produced an even greater recovery to end the inspired run of Ukrainian qualifier, Margayta Pesotska. The 24 year old Korean fought back from three games to one in arrears to secure a narrow seven games victory (12-10, 5-11, 6-11, 5-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-9).

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Patience was the order of the day, not only in the contest which witnessed success for the defensive skills of Honoka Hashimoto, also when Yang Haeun and Margaryta Pesotska took to the stage.

A close third game turned the tide for Honoka Hashimoto, from that moment forward she gained in confidence; for Jeon Jihee she had to fight the gremlins growing in her mind.

Endurance proved vital, who could keep the ball on the table longer, it was the same in the second semi-final; it was not a case of who could produce a mesmerising service and then finish the point with a blockbuster forehand. It was a question of who was better in the rallies.

Yang Haeun and Margaryta Pesotska are not too dissimilar in style; both favour close to the table attacking play; if the organisers had turned the table the other way round and used the court width there would have been sufficient space.

Furthermore both are notably strong from the backhand, it is the side they favour; that does not mean to say that by any stretch of the imagination are they weak from the forehand. In that department they are most efficient.

The difference is that true to continental tradition, the backhand of Yang Haeun is marginally shorter than that of Margaryta Pesotska but even her backhand is shorter than when I first saw her in 2005 in the Dominican Republic at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge. In those days it was only slightly shorter than a giraffe’s neck.

Long counter attacking points, they key not to panic, neither player taking risks, a deciding seventh game beckoned. Yang Yaeun went ahead 4-2, Margaryta Pesotska called “Time Out”, it was not to bring immediate fruition. After changing ends, Yang Haeun established a 6-2 lead; it appeared she was en route to victory.

However, to her great credit, Maragaryta Pesotska remained focused, she won the next four points to lead 7-6 but then once again tide turned, the next three points went to Yang Haeun before Margaryta Pesotska gained parity at 9-all.

Serving Yang Haeun secured the next two points to secure victory, the winning point being totally the antithesis of the whole match; Margaryta Pesotska returned the service into the net.

It was the third time that Yang Haeun and Margaryta Pesotska had met in a world ranking event; the balance is now with Korea; on the ITTF World Tour in 2011 Margaryta Pesotska had won in Austria, two years later Yang Haeun had prevailed in Qatar.

Challenge Series 2018 Polish Open Honoka Hashimoto Jeon Jihee Yang Haeun Margaryta Pesotska

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