22 Jun 2021

Previous winners, Romania’s Elizabeta Samara and Luxembourg’s Ni Xialian both appear on the women’s singles entry for the forthcoming Liebherr 2020 European Individual Championships, but the names on which eyes particularly focus are those of Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, alongside the German duo of Petrissa Solja and Han Ying.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

Furthermore, one more name can be added, that of Bernadette Szocs, also from Romania. They are the top four seeds in the tournament which commences on Tuesday 22nd June in the Polish capital city of Warsaw.

Elizabeta Samara, the no.6 seed, emerged successful in 2015 in Ekaterinburg; the evergreen Ni Xialian, the no.10 seed, prevailed as far back as 1998 in Eindhoven and 2002 in Zagreb.

Seeking to join the names on the roll of honour, the major challengers have yet to book a place in a European Championships women’s singles final, it is the same with Britt Eerland the no.5 seed.

Sofia Polcanova reached the penultimate round in 2018 in Alicante, before at the CCB 2020 Europe Top 16 Cup concluding matters in third place, a tournament in which Petrissa Solja, Bernadette Szocs and Britt Eerland have excelled.

Bernadette Szocs won in 2018, Petrissa Solja in both 2019 and 2020, in the latter Solja overcame Britt Eerland in the final. Likewise, Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska, the no.7 seed finished in fourth place in 2020, Nina Mittelham, also, from Germany and the no.8 seed, a quarter-finalist one year earlier.

Notably, at the 2018 European Championships, both Petrissa Solja and Bernadette Szocs, as well as Han Ying, reached the women’s singles quarter-finals.

Busy schedule

Building on the outcome of three years ago is the task but whatever the destiny one fact is certain, it will be a busy time in Warsaw for Petrissa Solja. She is also a contender for honours in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles events.

In the former she partners Shan Xiaona, occupying the no.16 seeded position, a status which does not necessarily reflect their capabilities. They possess three ITTF World Tour women’s doubles titles; in 2015 they won in Austria and Germany, in 2017 in the Korea Republic.

Rather differently in the mixed doubles in harness with Patrick Franziska, they are the no.3 seeds; at the 2019 European Games in Minsk, they very much gave notice that they can be considered favourites for the European Championships title. They clinched gold overcoming Ovidiu Ionescu and Bernadette Szocs in the final, the Romanians have been named no.4 seeds in Warsaw.

Slovakia’s Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova occupy the top-seeded mixed doubles spot ahead of the French partnership formed by Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Jia Na. Both pairs have enjoyed success at ITTF Challenge Series tournaments; Lubomir Pistej and Barbora Balazova won in 2019 in Canada, Emmanuel Lebesson and Yuan Ji Nan in early 2020 in Lisbon.

Tokyo bound

The top four seeded pairs, alongside Hungary’s Adam Szudi and Szandra Pergel, the no.5 seeds, have all qualified for the mixed doubles event at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

A busy time for Petrissa Solja, it is the same for Barbora Balazova and Yuan Jia Nan.

Barbora Balazova is the women’s singles no.13 seed, Yuan Jia Nan, the no.27 seed. In the women’s doubles, partnering the Czech Republic’s Hana Matelova, Barbora Balazova occupies the top-seeded spot, Yan Jia Nan in harness with Stéphanie Loeuillette, the no.3 position. Sandwiched in between is the host nation combination of Natalia Bajor and Natalia Partyka.

“Someone recently concluded that this is my 14th championships. I must admit that I don’t really count it myself. I just focus on the next match or tournament. Before the championships, I feel uncertain, because the last months have been strange for us. We played less than usual during the pandemic. First matches and a good start to the competition will be crucial.” Natalia Partyka

Serbia’s Sabina Surjan and Izabela Lupulesku occupy the no.4 seeded position but it is the pair next in line that is of note: Elizabeta Samara and Daniela Monteiro Dodean form the no.5 seeded combination – they secured the European title in both 2009 in Stuttgart and 2012 in Herning.

Play in both the women’s doubles and mixed doubles commence on the opening day of action.

General News Bernadette Szocs Petrissa Solja Elizabeta Samara Sofia Polcanova Britt Eerland Ni Xialian

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