by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
After accounting for Spain’s Aihoa Cristobal (11-2, 11-3, 11-2), she proved too secure for Hong Kong’s Zhu Chengzhu, the highest rated player in the group; most impressively, Kim Youjin succeeded in four games (11-4, 8-11, 11-4, 11-8).
An upset, the result needs to be put into perspective; Kim Youjin finished last year at no.41 on the Under 21 Women’s World Rankings, whilst at the 2017 World Junior Championships in Riva del Garda, she progressed to the quarter-final round of the Girls’ Singles event, losing to China’s Qian Tianyi.
Defeat for Zhu Chengzhu, the fourth highest rated player on initial phase duty but she was not the only player to stumble in the Under 21 Women’s Singles qualification stage, who started the day as the leading name in their group. Italy’s Veronika Mosconi, the second highest named and Finland’s Anna Kravchenko, the seventh in line, both suffered at Spanish hands.
Veronika Mosconi was beaten by Spain’s Yolanda Enriquez (5-11, 13-11, 11-4, 11-9); Anna Kravchenko suffered at the hands of Nerea Garcia (6-11, 4-11, 11-9, 11-9, 11-4).
The situation for Zhu Chengzhu is terminal; it is the end of the road. Only the players finishing in first place in each of the eight groups advance to the main draw; for Veronika Mosconi and Anna Kravchenko there is a glimmer of hope.
In the concluding match in her group Veronika Mosconi meets Andrea Perez, also from Spain. Earlier in the day she had beaten Yolanda Enriquez in four games (7-11, 11-7, 11-9, 12-10). Meanwhile, Anna Kirichenko opposes Nolwen Fort of France; in a group of four players, she is the only one unbeaten. In the opening matches in the group Anna Krivichenko beat Portugal’s Raquel Andrade (11-8, 11-5, 11-4), the player Nolwen Fort overcame (11-1, 11-0, 11-9), having earlier in the day accounted for Nerea Garcia (11-3, 11-7, 11-6).
Thus in order to be assured of first place in the group, Ann Krivichenko needs a straight games win against Nolwen Fort; it is virtually the same for Veronika Mosconi, a four games success will mean counting points.
Surprise outcomes and there was almost a surprise for the highest rated name on first phase Under 21 Women’s Singles duty; the host nation’s Zhang Xuan was stretched to the limit by Korea’s Sim Hyunju (11-8,, 7-11, 11-9, 7-11, 12-10). Difficult times for Zhang Xuan; for another leading name far fewer difficulties; the third highest named in opening day action, Japan’s Satsuki Odo commenced her itinerary with a straight games win in opposition to Spain’s Maria del Pilar Martin (11-4, 11-3, 12-10).
Play in the qualification stage of the Under 21 Women’s Singles event concludes on Thursday 29th March.