by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
She beat Sara Ramirez (3-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-8, 11-8), a player who for more than a decade has been a pivotal member of the national team and joined Italy’s Li Xiang as the European representatives secure first places against the odds.
Most impressively, Li Xiang preserved her unbeaten record by emerging successful in five games against Japan’s Mizuki Morizono (11-8, 11-8, 11-7, 9-11, 13-11), the cousin of Masataka and Misaki Morizono, the leading name in the group.
Defeat for Japan, contrary to expectations but the scales balanced more in their favour as Satsuki Odo and Yuka Minagawa accounted for the highest rated player in their respective group to maintain their unblemished record.
Satsuki Odo beat Stéphanie Loueillette of France (8-11, 11-9, 11-8, 14-12, 11-7), in a somewhat closer duel, decided by the minimal two point margin in the seventh game, Yuka Minagawa accounted for Puerto Rico’s Melanie Diaz (8-11, 11-5, 11-6, 11-6, 4-11, 6-11, 11-9).
Notable success for Japan, it was the same for Korea with Yoon Hyobin, Kim Youjin and Sim Hyunju all maintaining their unbeaten records and contrary to expectations reserving main draw places. In the matches that brought qualification to a conclusion all three beat Spanish opposition. Yoon Hyobin overcame Marina Niguez (11-6, 11-4, 11-6, 11-3), Kom Yoijin accounted for Ainhoa Cristobal (11-2, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6); Sim Hyunju proved too strong for Natalia Miramontes (11-8, 11-5, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7).
Korean and Japanese players in form; Hong Kong’s Zhu Chengzhu and Chinese Taipei’s Su Pei-Ling added their names to the list of surprise group winners. Zhu Chengzhu beat the Czech Republic’s Dana Cechova, the highest rated player in her group (11-6, 11-8, 11-8, 11-5); Su Pei-Ling accounted for Spain’s Maria del Pilar Martin (11-5, 11-5, 11-7, 11-2).
Meanwhile, for the very top names on duty in the Women’s Singles qualification tournament, unbeaten records were maintain as main draw places were reserved.
However, for the two highest rated names life was fraught. Giorgia Piccolin needed six games to beat Hong Kong’s Liu Qi (11-7, 11-7, 18-20, 9-11, 11-4, 11-7); even more exacting Daria Trigolos of Belarus required the full seven to overcome Italy’s Veronika Mosconi (11-3, 11-3, 7-11, 8-11, 11-6, 7-11, 11-6).
Tense times, for the next in line, life was less exacting. Hong Kong’s Mak Tze Wing concluded her initial stage adventures with victory over Russia’s Irina Ermakova in straight games (11-6, 11-7, 11-7, 11-9), in one game more Poland’s Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc defeated Mak Tze Wing’s colleague, Yam Yee Lok (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-8).
The main draw in the Women’s Singles event commences on Friday 30th March.