A journey which started five days ago in the qualification event, Ukraine’s Margaryta Pesotska continued her travels at the Liebherr 2018 ITTF European Championships in Alicante, Spain on the morning of Sunday 23rd September.
Contrary to status, at the semi-final sage of the Women’s Singles event, she accounted for Austria’s Sofia Polcanova, the top seed (7-11, 16-14, 12-10, 11-13, 11-4, 11-5), the win coming prior to Li Qian, the no.5 seed, emerging successful against colleague Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc, the no.29 seed (13-11, 11-6, 11-6, 10-12, 12-10).
Now 27 years old, on the wider international scene, we first set eyes on Margaryta Pesotska in 2005 as a member of the successful European team at the ITTF World Cadet Challenge in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic; her powerful backhand, a stroke longer than most was the feature that attracted the attention.
In Alicante that facet of her play has proved potent once again in a tournament for which she has a liking; at the 2009 European Championships, in Stuttgart, again completely against the odds, she reached the final eventually losing to Germany’s Wu Jiaduo.
Unexpected, in Alicante, the win was very much contrary to statistical evidence; on the current Women’s World Rankings, Sofia Polcanova is listed at no.17, Margaryta Pesotska at no.119. Furthermore when past results are considered the vote was heavily in favour of the Austrian, who most certainly was in fine form. In 2014 on the ITTF World Tour they met in Magdeburg in the third round of the Women’s Singles event, on that occasion Sofia Polcanova won in four straight games.
“I had not played against Sofia for long time, I did not know which tactics to use. It was very difficult; in the opening game whatever I tried, it failed. She is so fast and she puts all the ball on the table. After the first game, I started to understand what was going on; I stopped playing to her backhand, not that her forehand was much weaker but her backhand was astonishing. Sofia is so quick; you do not have time to think.” Margaryta Pesotska
Now in the final, Li Qian awaits; she proved safe and secure against Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc.
“It is never easy to play against teammates. We know each other so well. There is noting new you can do to help yourself.” Li Qian
Now, could she be a player very much to the liking of Margaryta Pesotska? She is an elegant defender but that style of play is not alien to the Ukrainian. She is very much the odd one out in the national team, her colleagues Tetyana Bilenko and Ganna Gaponova are both players who extol the backspin art.,
Meanwhile, in the third round in Alicante, Magaryta Pesotska beat Germany’s Han Ying (12-10, 11-9, 11-9, 4-11, 13-11) arguably the continent’s finest defensive player; according to seeding, Margaryta Pesotska is the outsider, in reality is she the favourite?