by Ian Marshall, Editor
In 1955 in Utrecht when Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu won her sixth consecutive Women’s Singles title at a World Championships; no one would have predicted that from that date until the present, no European player would ever hold the Geist Prize aloft. Such a suggestion would have been met with derision and excommunication from the halls of sport.
Since those bygone days, Asia has ruled the waves; last month, on the ITTF World Tour, adversaries from that continent ended the progress of Georgina Pota and Sabine Winter but not before notable names, those possessing talents honed in the east, had been put to the sword by the two Europeans. In Bulgaria Georgina Pota beat Korea Republic’s Kim Hayeong and Japan’s Saki Shibata, before losing to the latter’s colleague, Hitomi Sato. One week later in the Czech Republic, Sabine Winter beat Hitomi Sato and Poland’s Li Qian, prior to departing at the hands of China’s Wu Yang.
Excellent results but do they not suggest that if either or both is to make a major impact in the Women’s Singles event in Alicante, the luck of the draw will be crucial. Playing against fast attacking players Georgina Pota is in her element, although better that most against defenders it is hard work; it’s not her favourite cup of tea. The wins in Bulgaria were against those of the attacking variety, the defeat when facing classic defensive skills.
Now for Sabine Winter, is it not somewhat the reverse; accepted in the Czech Republic, she was beaten by a defender but I suggest Wu Yang is ahead of the rest of the world in the female backspin art. Hitomi Sato and Li Qian, both very similar in style, are currently listed amongst the top 30 names on the current Women’s World Rankings; they are class acts.
Against any European attacking player Georgina Pota is more than a match; against any European defender would you not back Sabine Winter? The nature of the draw could decide their medal chances.
Possible medals in the Women’s Singles event but is it not in the Women’s Doubles in Alicante where they have the greatest chance of success, the greatest chance of a place on the top step of the podium? For over a decade, their names have been most prominent on the roll of honour.
Partnering Krisztina Toth, Georgina Pota was the runner up in 2007 in Belgrade and 2012 in Herning; sandwiched in between, the duo won in 2008 in St Petersburg. Likewise, when joining forces with Romania’s Elizabeta Samara, it was the silver medal in 2015 in Ekaterinburg.
In Alicante, the partner for Georgina Pota is Sweden’s Matilda Ekholm; now very much an established combination since winning on the ITTF World Tour in 2016 in the Czech Republic. In the Spanish resort, they are the top seeds but as yet as a partnership has not struck gold at a European Championships.
The situation is different for Sabine Winter, she renews her alliance with colleague Petrissa Solja; the player with whom she won in 2013 in Schwechat and was on the opposite side of the table in the 2016 final in Budapest. In the Hungarian capital city in the title deciding contest Kristin Lang and Sabine Winter beat Shan Xiaona and Petrissa Solja.
Notably, when reaching the final, Sabine Winter has always won; in Alicante, Petrissa Solja and Sabine Winter occupy the no.7 seeded spot. Now that suggests for more than one pair as matters progress to the last eight, they could prove very dangerous opponents, the pair to avoid.