by Simon Daish
Bernadette Szocs (ROU)
Making her Women’s World Cup debut at last year’s event in Chengdu, Bernadette Szocs is back for more after successfully sealing qualification with her runner-up finish at the 2019 Europe Top 16 Cup competition.
Topping her group last time out Szocs will be aiming to replicate that feat once again, but this time around the Romanian also has one eye on bettering her Round of 16 finish from 2018 – can she pull it off?
Jeon Jihee (KOR)
One of the biggest names to hail from Korea Republic, however, the Uncle Pop 2019 ITTF Women’s World Cup marks Jeon Jihee’s first-ever outing at the event and with it an opportunity to show the world what she’s made of.
A member of the historic Unified Korea team that took bronze at the 2018 World Team Championships in Halmstad, Jeon is the sole player representing Korea Republic in Chengdu having gained her ticket with her seventh position finish at the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup.
Petrissa Solja (GER)
Germany will also be pinning its hopes on one competitor in Chengdu with Petrissa Solja ready to fly the flag for the European nation.
Solja’s personal best outing at the event came in 2015, topping her group in Sendai before securing impressive victories over Feng Tianwei, Ai Fukuhara and then Li Jiao on her way to a bronze medal finish. Enjoying somewhat of a resurgence in the past year, Solja booked her place in Chengdu after collecting gold at the 2019 Europe Top 16 Cup in Montreux. Will the German continue her solid progress with another strong display on the World Cup stage?
Elizabeta Samara (ROU)
Elizabeta Samara is well accustomed to the Women’s World Cup having made her tournament debut in 2012, enjoying an incredible campaign that saw her achieve a second position finish just behind current World champion Liu Shiwen.
The 2015 European champion and three-time Olympian qualified for this her sixth edition of the World Cup thanks to a combination of ranking and her quarter-final finish in Montreux. Samara is yet to fall at the Women’s World Cup group stage and will be keen to make it beyond the Round of 16 for just the second time since the magical heights of seven years ago.
Chen Szu-Yu (TPE)
One of two players representing Chinese Taipei in Chengdu but unlike fifth seed Cheng I-Ching, Chen Szu-Yu must start from the very beginning and successfully negotiate group action if she’s to reach the main draw.
Present at the World Cups in 2017 and 2018, Chen has moved through the initial stage on both occasions finishing fifth and ninth at the respective events. Earning her ticket for this weekend’s sporting spectacle with a top 10 finish at the 2019 ITTF-ATTU Asian Cup – could we be set to witness another top 10 result for Chen?
Zhang Mo (CAN)
Zhang Mo returns to the Women’s World Cup for a seventh occasion, obtaining her competitor’s pass with a silver medal performance at the 2019 ITTF Pan America Cup in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
So far the Canadian has only graced the Round of 16 on home soil in 2017, tasting defeat at the hands of eventual champion Zhu Yuling. Last year in Chengdu Zhang suffered one of the cruelest of exits, matching Jian Fang Lay and Georgina Pota on number of victories but finishing third in overall due to a slightly inferior games ratio. All the more motivation to up the ante this time out!
Adriana Diaz (PUR)
Pan America Cup champion Adriana Diaz is one of the most exciting young prospects Puerto Rican table tennis has to offer and she’ll be hoping to win even more fans over as she prepares to make her Women’s World Cup debut in Chengdu.
In 2016 Diaz made history by becoming the first female table tennis player from Puerto Rico to qualify for the Olympic Games and has since gone on to win all four Pan American singles titles, all of which she still holds to this day.
Dina Meshref (EGY)
Representing the Africa in Chengdu, once again the honour passes on to Egypt’s Dina Meshref to lead the continent’s charge at the tournament.
Dropping just one game on her way to 2019 ITTF Africa Cup glory, Meshref lifted the women’s singles trophy for a whopping seventh time and hence is set for her seventh Women’s World Cup venture. Two group defeats last year saw Meshref halted at the first hurdle but she did qualifying for the Round of 16 three years in a row from 2015 through to 2017 – she will be determined to return to the last 16 when she takes to the table on the weekend.
Wu Yue (USA)
USA’s Wu Yue’s first appearance at the event took place in front of her home fans at the 2016 event in Philadelphia and was also amongst the list of competitors in 2018. However, Wu is still chasing her first victory at the Women’s World Cup having been restricted to third position group finishes on both of her previous outings, a statistic she’ll be looking to overturn at the 2019 event.
A bronze medal at the 2019 ITTF Pan American Cup has given Wu another opportunity to progress beyond the group stage of the World Cup, will she take it?
Lily Zhang (USA)
Wu Yue won’t be the only US player in Chengdu with Lily Zhang also making the trip as a Wild card entry. The 23-year-old heads to the event off the back of a fantastic performance at the 2019 ITTF-Pan American Championships in the Paraguayan capital of Asuncion where she took home all four titles she was eligible to compete for!
In regards to her Women’s World Cup form Zhang has competed at the event twice in her career, reaching the Round of 16 on her debut in 2016 and exiting at the first hurdle in 2017. What awaits the five-time US national champion in on her third appearance?
Natalia Partyka (POL)
Natalia Partyka is back on the Women’s World Cup stage for the first time since 2010 after her superb fourth place finish at the 2019 Europe Top 16 Cup proved enough to seal her ticket for the upcoming extravaganza.
The Polish star is one of the European continent’s biggest names and is also a Paralympic legend, claiming a record fourth consecutive women’s singles class 10 gold medal at Rio 2016. She’s proven she can mix it with the best, keep an eye out for Partyka this weekend.
Jian Fang Lay (AUS)
At 46 years of age Jian Fang Lay is the oldest competitor set to do battle in Chengdu but she also happens to be the most experienced player on the roster having made her debut at the tournament 19 years ago!
It was Lay’s most recent outing at the event, 2018, that saw the Australian produce one of her finest displays yet as she topped Group 3 against the odds with a stunning 4-1 victory over Georgina Pota. Lay’s clinched her eighth Women’s World Cup ticket back in May when she emerged as women’s singles champion at the 2019 ITTF-Oceania Cup in Bora Bora.