(by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor)
Women’s World Cup: Opening day, round one the prime goal
A place in the first round, at the forthcoming Uncle Pop 2017 ITTF Women’s World Cup presented by Polar Naturals; that is very much the quest for Lily Zhang of the United States and Egypt’s Dina Meshref as well as for Australia’s Jian Fang Lay and Chile’s Paulina Vega.
They must compete in the initial stage on Friday 27th October, the first day of play in the three day tournament; each will feature in one of the four groups and each will face two higher rated adversaries.
Lily Zhang reached the opening round last year in Philadelphia as did Dina Meshref, a feat she had also achieved in 2015 in Sendai. Notably on that occasion, she became the first player from Africa to advance beyond the first phase; for Jian Fang Lay, who in Markham will be competing for the sixth time, such progress has proved elusive, for Paulina Vega, it is her debut.
Over the years the system has changed, from the inaugural tournament in 1996 in Hong Kong until 2008 in Kuala Lumpur, a total of 16 players were invited; all competed in the initial phase where four groups, each with four players, were organised. Players finishing in first and second positions in each group advanced to the quarter-finals
Later in 2009 in Guangzhou, the number of invitations was increased to 19 players with the representatives from Africa, Latin America, North America and Oceania competing in the Intercontinental Cup. The winner joined the 15 players who had received invitations to compete in the Women’s World Cup; the next stage as in previous years, witnessed four groups, each with four players, first and second placed finishers advancing to the quarter-finals.
Always the draw for the four groups was administered on the snake system; the leading four names were placed in each group in ranked order, the next four on the list were drawn at random into the second positions and so forth. Separation by national association was observed.
The Intercontinental Cup continued until 2012 with honours shared between the four continents. Australia’s Miao Miao won in 2009, the following year, Congo Brazzaville’s Yang Fen succeeded in Kuala Lumpur. In 2011 the Dominican Republic’s Wu Xue prevailed in Singapore, in 2012 in Huangshi, the title finished in the hands of Ariel Hsing of the United States.
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