by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
The player to shine was Yukari Sugasawa; she beat both Wei Yuanhui (11-6, 11-8, 11-6) and Wang Xiaotong (11-6, 3-11, 11-7, 11-8).
However, that was to prove the limit of Japanese success; Honami Nakamori was beaten by Wang Xiaotong (11-6, 9-11, 11-7, 11-8) and in the crucial fifth and deciding match of the fixture by Wei Yuanhui who recovered from a two games to nil deficit to emerge successful (5-11, 1-11, 11-7, 11-4, 11-8).
Sandwiched in between, in the third match of the engagement, Hikari Okubo suffered at the hands of Gao Yanan in what was to prove the pivotal contest, she was beaten by the very narrowest of margins in the decisive fifth game (11-5, 12-14, 9-11, 12-10, 14-12).
Defeat for Hikari Okubo, Honami Nakamori and Yukari Sugasawa but it was their only reverse; thus second place in the group and a passport to the main draw was achieved. Gao Yanan, Wang Xiaotong and Wei Yuanhui remained unbeaten to top the group.
Meanwhile, in the remaining groups, the leading outfits duly secured first positions with being extended the full five match distance.
Top seeds, Chinese Taipei with Chien Tung-Chuan, Chen Ting-Ting and Yu Hsiu-Ting on duty ended the day in pole position as did the Polish outfit, the no.2 seed, formed by Anna Wegrzyn, Katarzyna Wegrzyn and Julia Szymczak.
Likewise, it was first place in the group without due alarm for Slovakia’s Natalie Grigelova, Tatiana Kukulkova, Nikoleta Puchovanva and Jana Terezkova, the no.3 seeds; a situation that applied also to the no.4 seeds, the Croatian combination of Klara Bardac, Andrea Pavlovic, Sara Susac and Marta Vukelic.
Meanwhile, in the two first round fixtures that were required, the Japanese trio of Kaho Akae, Sakura Yokoi and Yua Yamasaki recorded a three-one success against the United States outfit formed by Reina Aso, Lynn Hsieh Tian and Amy Wang. Likewise, in an imposing manner Germany’s Laura Tiefenbrunner, Tu Wenna and Anastasia Bondareva overcame Hungary’s Helga Dari, Veronika Menko and Marta Nagypal by three matches to nil.
Play in the Girls’ Team event concludes on Friday 18th May.