by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
Defeat for Matilda Ekholm by the very narrowest of margins; however, there was success for Europe as play progressed in the final qualification round of the Women’s Singles event.
Romania’s Bernadette Szocs beat Japan’s 12 year old defensive player, Haruna Ojio (11-4, 10-12, 11-5, 11-6, 7-11, 11-7).
“She is a really good player and will have a good future. I put one million balls on the table but she always got them back. I knew I had to concentrate as it would be difficult. She played better than expected. She played like she had anything to lose. I normally like to play defenders but she was very strong so it was tough. If she is playing in this event it means she has a good level in Japan. I am proud as I didn’t play my best and I could still win. She just got everything back, she is amazing.” Bernadette Szocs
A hard fought win for Bernadette Szocs, it was even harder for Britt Eerland of the Netherlands who recovered from a three games to nil deficit against Korea’s Lee Zion to secure victory (6-11, 8-11, 11-13, 11-7, 11-6, 11-8, 13-11).
“I saw her play before and I saw that she has this big forehand. A similar style to mine with lots of spin to spin shots, in the match it was actually much faster than I expected; when she was two-nil up, she tried to delay the game a bit, so I was a bit angry. This made me move faster. It then gave me more confidence to change my game a bit more. She had problems with this, couldn’t play her strong forehand anymore. In the end I just told myself that you have to play your game, I don’t know how but you have to put the ball on the table.” Britt Eerland
Success for Bernadette Szocs and Britt Eerland, it was the same for a further European in the guise of Portugal’s Fu Yu; she accounted for Korea’s Wee Yeji (11-3, 11-7, 11-6, 11-4).
However, there was one notable casualty; in the all-Japanese clash Maki Shiomi experienced defeat at the hands of Satsuki Odo in a tension packed seven games contest (11-2, 11-4, 8-11, 11-13, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10).
Presently on the Women’s World Rankings, Satsuki Odo is named at no.81, Maki Shiomi at no.42.