08 Feb 2020

More than one way to play table tennis and more than one way to succeed when playing table tennis; that fact was more than underlined on Friday 7th February at the 2020 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open in Granada.

At the conclusion of play the penultimate round line-up read Singapore’s Zeng Jian versus Japan’s Honoka Hashimoto, Monaco’s Yang Xiaoxin in opposition to Germany’s Shan Xiaona.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Zeng Jian, the no.10 seed, caused a major third round upset. She beat Sakura Mori, the no.7 seed and winner on the 2017 ITTF World Tour in India (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5), before at the quarter-final stage ousting Romania’s Irina Ciobanu, the no.11 seed (11-8, 11-8, 11-6, 8-11, 11-5).

The close to the table shake hands grip counter attacking style prevailed; short quite strokes, trademark Asian style.

Very different

Likewise both Honoka Hashimoto and Yang Xiaoxin adopt the shake-hands grip but they are as different as chalk and cheese. The classic backspin technique utilised by Honoka Hashimoto, the no.3 seed, proved too secure for her Russia’s Olga Vorobeva, the no.14 seed (11-8, 11-6, 11-5, 10-12, 11-5), as it did in the next round for her 15 year old compatriot Satsuki Odo, the no.8 seed (11-8, 11-7, 11-2, 11-6).

Very much the opposite to Honoka Hashimoto, just as Zeng Jian enjoyed success close to the table with attacking play, so did Yang Xiaoxin, the no.4 seed; she accounted for Japan’s Maki Shiomi, the no.9 seed (11-9, 7-11, 9-11, 11-4, 12-14, 12-10, 11-6), before ending the hopes of Russia’s Mariia Tailakova, the no.13 seed (11-6, 12-10, 7-11, 14-12, 11-8).

Similar to Zeng Jian; not all Yang Xiaoxin is very different, she uses long pimpled rubber on the backhand as opposed to Zeng Jian who has the smooth racket covering on each side of the racket.

Pen-hold style

Three different styles, now the fourth; Shan Xiaona is also right handed but she is a pen-holder, an expert close to the table, short pimpled rubber, predominantly using one side of the racket only, creating angles and forcing errors.

On the penultimate day of play, she accounted for colleague Wan Yan, the no.30 seed (11-9, 15-13, 11-6, 11-13, 13-11), before ending the hopes of Japan’s Saki Shibata, the no.2 seed (9-11, 12-10, 11-13, 11-8, 11-6, 11-5).

More interesting

So more styles of play were evident in Granada in the women’s competition than in the men’s singles where four attacking shake-hands grip players in the guise of Benedikt Duda, Benedek Olah, Steffen Mengel and Kirill Gerassimenko, all using the smooth reversed rubber on each side of the racket, advanced to the last four.

Therefore does that mean the greater variety, the women’s game is interesting to watch?

Challenge Series 2020 Spanish Open Honoka Hashimoto Shan Xiaona Zeng Jian Yang Xiaoxin

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Day 3 - 2020 ITTF Challenge Spanish Open