by Simon Daish
Champion at the 2018 ITTF Europe Top 16 Cup but Bernadette Szocs proved unsuccessful in her opening qualification groups stage match in Bremen.
The Romanian suffered a six games defeat to Satsuki Odo on the first day of qualifying (12-10, 8-11, 11-13, 12-10, 11-7, 11-9) and with Odo proving victorious in her opening match against Thailand’s Tamolwan Khetkhuan, the Japanese player has guaranteed her place at the summit of the group.
Austrian player Amelie Solja was another player to produce a major; she brushed away the disappointment of her opening defeat to Yoo Eunchong by claiming a big win against Georgina Pota (4-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-9, 9-11, 11-9), putting a serious dent in the Hungarian’s hopes of reaching the next round.
Elsewhere, Russia’s Yulia Prokhorova delivered a powerful display as she impressively came out on top in her encounter with Thai opponent Suthasini Sawettabut (11-4, 13-11, 4-11, 7-11, 11-8, 11-8) while the Indian duo of Mouma Das and Manika Batra picked up positive results in their opening qualification fixtures.
Patrick Baum was in fine form on the opening day of Men’s Singles qualifying, earning victories in both of his group matches: the host nation’s Baum proved too strong for Italian competitor Niagol Stoyanov in the first Group 7 fixture (11-5, 11-7, 11-8, 11-3) before triumphing over Ukraine’s Kou Lei across five games (15-13, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10, 11-6) to progress from the group.
Often regarded as one of the finest players on the African continent but Quadri Aruna suffered an early scare in Bremen with the Nigerian representative requiring the full seven games distance to see off Philipp Floritz of Bulgaria (11-9, 11-8, 11-13, 11-8, 9-11, 10-12, 11-8).
However, surely the most drama came courtesy of Group 23 as both of the group’s opening day contests went right down to the wire. Hungary’s Krisztian Nagy was involved in both matches, beginning with a narrow win against Padasak Tanviriyavechakul (8-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-4, 8-11, 6-11, 11-8) and came close to achieving a massive upset in the second tie against Jiang Tianyi (11-8, 4-11, 11-8, 8-11, 9-11, 11-6, 12-10) but ultimately it was the player from Hong Kong who prevailed.