19 Mar 2019

Finalists in early February at the CCB Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux, by the very narrowest of margins Germany’s Petrissa Solja gaining the decision in opposition to Romania’s Bernadette Szocs, alongside Chinese Taipei’s Chen I-Ching, they are major challengers for honours in the women’s singles event at the forthcoming Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus, Oman Open.

Cheng I-Ching is the top seed; Bernadette Szocs is in fifth spot with Petra Solja two places below at the five day tournament, which begins in Muscat with qualification on Wednesday 20th March.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

A high flying group but of the trio, Bernadette Szocs is the only member to have won a women’s singles title on either the ITTF World Tour or the ITTF Challenge Series; she succeeded in Brazil in 2017 when beating Audrey Zarif of France in the final.

Both Cheng I-Ching and Petrissa Solja have come close but not quite close enough; on the ITTF World Tour in 2015 Cheng I-Ching was the runner up in Austria, beaten by Germany’s Han Ying in the final, earlier in the same year Petrissa Solja experienced the same fate in Bremen when losing to Japan’s Mima Ito.

Now that is the country which in Muscat poses the biggest problem for each member of the threesome, beat one player from the Land of the Rising Sun and the chances are another awaits! In the guise of Miu Hirano, Hitomi Sato, Saki Shibata and Honoka Hashimoto, they provide four of the top eight seeds. Also you can add to the list Hina Hayata, the winner last month in Lisbon; she is the no.9 seed.

Notably, Cheng I-Ching, Bernadette Szocs and Petrissa Solja will not commence their quest for honours on the first day of action; seeded they start on Friday 24th March. Thus for the group it is a three day tournament, now could that prove ideal?

In events of that length they excel. Additional to this year at the Europe Top 16 Cup, Petrissa Solja was the runner up in 2017 in Antibes, one year later in Montreux Bernadette Szocs emerged the winner.

However, both must stand in line behind Cheng I-Ching; at three most recent Women’s World Cup tournaments she has secured a podium finish. In 2016 in Philadelphia she was the runner up, one year later in Markham, as well as last year in Chengdu, she concluded matters in third place.

Furthermore, could there be a repeat? In Philadelphia Cheng I-Ching lost to Miu Hirano in the final, one year later in Markham she reversed the decision, in Muscat, Miu Hirano is the no.2 seed. If all goes to plan they meet in the final!

Challenge Series 2019 Oman Open Bernadette Szocs Cheng I-Ching Petrissa Solja

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Day 3 - Seamaster 2019 ITTF Challenge Plus, Oman Open