by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Three groups in the initial phase, first place plus one “Lucky Loser” drawn at random from the second placed teams, secured semi-final places.
The surprise outfit of the day was that formed by Hungary’s Fanni Harasztovich, Helga Dari and Marta Nagypal.
Wins for Fanni Harasztovich over Jana Bernard (11-2, 11-5, 11-4) and Natacha Koszulap (12-10, 12-14, 11-4, 11-9) proved the backbone of a three-one win against Belgium for whom Maelys Dahy completed the team. The win came after the Belgian trio had succeeded by the same margin in opposition to the Polish combination of Julia Szymczak, Anna Wegrzyn and Katarzyna Wegrzyn; the star of the show being Natacha Koszulap. She accounted for both Anna Wegrzyn (11-5, 11-7, 11-6) and Katarzyna Wegrzyn (8-11, 11-6, 11-9, 3-11, 12-10).
Defeat for Poland but in their concluding contest against Hungary, with Anna Wegrzyn accounting for Fanni Harasztovich (11-9, 11-6, 11-9) and Helga Dari (13-11, 11-8, 11-5), a three-two victory margin was completed.
However, it was not sufficient to gain a main draw place; on match ratio it was first place for Hungary (5:4) followed by Belgium (4:4) and Poland (4:5). Hungary progressed; Belgium won the lottery and gained the “Lucky Loser” place.
No place in the main draw for the third seeds, for the second seeds, France, a place but there was a scare. They trailed Japan by two matches to nil, following defeats for Lucie Gauthier against Yukari Sugasawa (11-6, 13-11, 11-9) and Leili Mostafavi in opposition Kaho Akae (11-6, 13-11, 11-7).
It was at that stage the revival began. Camille Lutz overcame Hikari Okubo (11-8, 14-12, 11-8), before Lucie Gauthier defeated Kaho Akae (5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 8-11, 11-8) and Leili Mostafavi accounted for Yukari Sugasawa (14-12, 11-6, 11-5).
Testing time for three of the four eventual semi-finalists but not for the outfit at the very top of the list; the Hong Kong combination of Lee Ka Yee, Wong Chin Yau and Chau Wing Sze duly topped their initial phase group without any great moments of alarm.
At the semi-final stage Hong Kong meets Belgium, France opposes Hungary; play in the Junior Girls’ Team event concludes on Saturday 21st April.