15 Nov 2018

The name may not appear familiar, the performance was very familiar; as play progressed on Thursday 15th November in the opening round of the Women’s Singles event at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Belgosstrakh Belarus Open in Minsk, Russia’s Elena Kuzmina caused what could be considered somewhat of an upset.

Required to compete in the two day qualification tournament, she accounted for Luxembourg’s Sarah de Nutte, the no.13 seed, a player who this year has made notable progress and has proved a most worthy doubles partner for the vastly experienced Ni Xia Lian. Elena Kuzmina emerged successful in four straight games (11-7, 11-8, 11-9, 12-10).

by Ian Marshall, Editor

New to the scene, not at all, a major surprise, not at all; now 29 years old, Elena Kuzmina has been on international duty throughout most of the current century, the lady who shares her birthday with the likes of Austria’s Liu Jia and China’s Zhang Jike is the former Elena Troshneva. Always competitive, she is a player of note, pertinently in 2008 in Macao she was on duty in the Under 21 Women’s Singles event at the ITTF World Tour Grand Finals.

Success for Russia and as play in the top half of the Women’s Singles draw came to a conclusion there was more success for the country than spans no less than eleven time zones. Polina Mikhailova, the no.6 seed and the winner in 2012 in Minsk when beating the host nation’s Alexandra Privalova in the final, accounted for Japan’s 13 year old Haruna Ojio (10-12, 5-11, 11-6, 11-8, 14-12, 11-3); Yana Noskova, the no.12 seed, eventually overcame a potentially most difficult adversary in the guise of China’s He Aige (11-6, 11-9, 4-11, 11-6, 8-11, 7-11, 11-7).

Defeat for one young aspiring player from Japan but there was success for the Land of the Rising Sun. Miyu Kato, the no.4 seed, beat Finland’s Anna Kirichenko (11-3, 11-3, 11-9, 11-7); Sakura Mori, the no.19 seed, accounted for Croatia’s Sun Jiayi (11-5, 11-7, 12-10, 11-7).

Noteworthy performances but pride of place went to 17 year old colleague Miku Izumo, quarter-finalist earlier this year at the 2018 Asian Junior and Cadet Championships in Myanmar; required to compete in the qualification tournament, she caused the host nation heartache. She beat Alina Nikitchanka, the no.32 seed (10-12, 11-9, 11-7, 7-11, 12-10, 11-7).

The lower half of the draw follows immediately.

Challenge Series 2018 Belarus Open Elena Troshneva

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Day 4 - 2018 ITTF Challenge Belarus Open