by Ian Marshall, Editor
Surely for the men it is a long shot; they will have to cause major upsets. Kou Lei leads the team supported by Yaroslav Zhmudenko, Yevhen Pryshchepa and Victor Yefimov.
Listed at no.58, Kou Lei is the only member of the squad whose name appears in the top 100 of the current World rankings. Yaroslav Zhmudenko is at no.158, Yevhen Pryshchepa at no.145 and Victor Yefimov at no.323. In Gondomar they occupy the no.21 seeded place in the draw.
However, for the women, it is somewhat different. They reserve the no.9 seeded position in an event which affords nine places for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
Solomiya Brateyko is the youngest member of the selection, she is 20 years old and presently stands at no.180 on the Women’s World rankings; her colleagues are very much more experienced and have throughout the past decade formed a combination that has proved most competitive.
Margaryta Pesotska, listed at no.28 in the world order, leads the team; next in the order of merit is Ganna Gaponova followed by Tetyana Bilenko. On the current world rankings, Ganna Gaponova occupies the no.34 spot, Tetyana Bilenko is two places lower at no.36.
Notably in 2019, Margaryta Pesotska was the women’s singles runner up at the ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open; so near yet so far and perhaps that to some extent that describes the Ukrainian women’s team.
At the Liebherr 2019 European Championships in Nantes, they finished in first place in their initial stage group.
Selecting Tetyana Bilenko, Ganna Gaponova and Margaryta Pesotska throughout, they secured a 3-2 success against Austria to secure top spot. In Gondomar, Austria occupies the no.6 seeded position with once again, as in Nantes, Liu Jia, Sofia Polcanova and Amelie Solja named in the line-up.
A main draw place secured but no further progress, in a full distance contest they experienced a 3-2 reverse when facing Hungary. In Gondomar, Hungary reserves the no.7 seed position, Dora Madarasz and Szandra Pergel are both named in the Gondomar team but there is no Georgina Pota.
In Nantes, she beat both Margaryta Pesotska and Ganna Gaponova in the 3-2 win; also in the final in Slovenia by the very narrowest of decision Georgina Pota saved match points prior to overcoming Margaryta Pesotska.
One wonders, in Gondomar could the Nantes experience prove vital to Ukrainian ambitions; a first team Olympic Games team appearance?