Back in April, we dived into the Men’s Singles rankings, looking at who could possibly replace Lukas Windischberger and Arnaud Genin after their retirement announcements. Now it’s time to turn our attention to the Women’s Singles rankings. This is because Isabelle Bramhall has also decided to retire from elite singles racketlon.
So who is going to replace Bramhall in the top-10 of the world rankings? We’re going to discover who is ranked from 11 to 20 to see who has the best chance.
No.11 – Elisabeth Seehofer
Kicking off our countdown is Austria’s Elisabeth Seehofer. The sister of World No.1, Christine Seehofer, Elisabeth has spent plenty of time in and around the top 10 of the world rankings.
Despite being first on our countdown, there is a limiting factor in Seehofer being a regular in the top-10. Since 2015, Seehofer has only once played outside of Austria. If she continues this trend then Seehofer is more likely to fall down the rankings due to inactivity, especially when you consider the activity of some of names to come later on.
What does play into Seehofer’s hands is that she regularly performs well at the tournaments in Austria. Since the Murau Open in 2018, Seehofer has three bronze medals, a fourth and a fifth. That success is what has seen her get to No.11. Could this year’s Austrian Open take her inside the top-10?
No.12 – Astrid Reimer-Kern
We already have two German players in the top 10 in Silke Altmann and Amke Fischer. Could we have a third? With two singles titles in 2019, Astrid Reimer-Kern is one of the most successful players in recent years.
Much like Seehofer, inactivity is probably the only reason that Reimer-Kern is not already in the top-10. The squash specialist played just one tournament in 2018, alongside a further four in 2019. In the top-20, Martina Meissl is the only player to have played fewer tournaments with four.
This does play into Reimer-Kern’s hands a little bit though. When the rankings restart she’ll only lose points from one tournament in 2018, unlike others above her who will lose many more. That means that Reimer-Kern is arguably in the best position to catapult herself straight into the top-10. Less than 300 points behind Fischer at No.10, is Reimer-Kern going to make her top-10 debut at last?
No.13 – Hannah Boden
Another player who has graced the top-10 before is Hannah Boden. It would be poetic if the former U21 World Champion were to replace Bramhall when she falls out. A Brit for a Brit.
Boden has eight tournaments on her resume, with three from 2018 and five from 2019. The five in 2019 means that she will have plenty of points already banked and give her a good platform to attack the top-10.
As a regular attendee of the Latvian Open, she’ll no doubt be disappointed to hear about its cancellation but with plenty of chances later in the year to pick up points, could the badminton specialist make the jump back inside? Given that Great Britain is the reigning world team champion, it would be a shame to not have a British player inside the top-10 of the world rankings.
No.14 – Stine Jacobsen
Danish star Stine Jacobsen is next up on the list, landing at No.14. A relative newcomer on the circuit having played her first tournament in 2016, Jacobsen is slowly becoming a real force. In 2018 and 2019, Jacobsen dismantled a host of big names. This includes top-10 players Isabelle Bramhall, Margaux Randjbar, Silke Altmann, Anna-Klara Ahlmer and Zuzana Severinova. Also on her resume is wins over former top-10 stars Lilian Druve, Natalie Paul, Lieselot de Bleeckere and Martina Meissl. That is just in a two year period.
Perhaps her most eye-catching result came at the 2019 French Open where she came within a handful of points of ending Christine Seehofer’s insane winning streak. Seehofer eventually won by four points but only thanks to a 22-20 tennis victory.
Jacobsen is unquestionably one of the most dangerous players on the Tour. Her breakthrough culminated in a first elite singles title at the 2020 CHA Luxembourg Open. Can she now build on that success in 2021 and crack the top-10 and maybe even the top-5?
No.15 – Natalie Paul
As a four-time doubles world champion, Natalie Paul needs no introduction. The German has a glistening record that has seen her spend months in the top-10 in the past. Inactivity has been the main reason behind Paul’s fall to No.15.
The German has only played twice since the end of 2018, at the IWT French Open and World Championships towards the back end of 2019. The fact she’s losing points from four tournaments in 2018 means that she is not the most likely candidate to crack the top-10 when the tour returns. In fact, Paul is more likely to fall further before she rises again.
A lot of Paul’s future depends on whether she makes a return to the FIR World Tour on a more regular basis. We’d love to see her back competing regularly but it may be a while before we see her back ranked alongside the very best.
No.16 – Stine Krogsoe
The most active player on our countdown is Stine Krogsoe. The Dane has a remarkable 14 tournaments on her rankings at the moment. In the entire world rankings, only Christine Seehofer and Anna-Klara Ahlmer have played more with 18 each.
Unfortunately for Krogsoe, eight of those 14 tournaments took place in 2018 meaning that she is guaranteed to lose a tonne of points as 2021 progresses. This leaves her top-10 chances looking extremely slim. However, her consistent activity means that she is almost certain to remain a constant top-20 player and a force at the Women’s B level.
No.17 – Emmie Danielsson
One of the better table tennis players on the women’s tour, Emmie Danielsson is currently the world No.17. The Swedish star has only recently made the move up from the B to A grade at tournaments but already has a handful of impressive scalps. In 2019 she beat Kirsten Kaptein before tennis and also took down Hannah Boden with a huge tennis comeback at the IWT Czech Open.
Unfortunately for Danielsson, she’s in a very similar situation to Natalie Paul. With just six tournaments on her rankings record and four of those coming in 2018, she’d need to be very active in 2021 to have a shot at the top-10.
It feels like she may be too far away to make a run at the top-10 in 2021 but that doesn’t mean she can’t reach it in the future. With youth on her side and plenty of strength across all four sports, Danielsson is still a name to watch in the future and is always a tricky draw.
No.18 – Martina Meissl
One of the most talented players to grace a racketlon court over the last decade, a string of nasty injuries had derailed Martina Meissl’s career. The Austrian already has four titles to her name, including two at Super World Tour level, a feat only achieved by seven women in total in history.
After a number of years blighted by injury, it’s fantastic to see Meissl making more and more appearances on the tour over the last few years. Admittedly, three of her four tournaments have been in Austria but the results have been hugely promising.
A third at the 2020 Vienna New Year Classics and a sixth at the 2019 World Championships prove she is returning to her best form. With fewer points to defend than anyone else on our countdown, you can bet that you’ll see Meissl climbing the rankings once again. If she plays a handful of tournaments in 2021 it’s highly likely that she’ll end 2021 in the top-10, back where she belongs.
No.19 – Natalia Prado
At one point in 2018, Natalia Prado looked absolutely unstoppable. Three tournament wins in a row at B level, including the World Championships, left her as a player heavily tipped to cause a big splash at the elite level in 2019.
Prado nearly secured a huge win over Nicole Eisler at the IWT Club La Santa Open. Later in the year she did secure a landmark victory, defeating Hall of Famer Lilian Druve in impressive fashion at the King of Rackets. Those two tournaments were all we saw of Prado in 2019 which means there’s still plenty of intrigue around the type of force she could be at the elite level.
Hopefully, we see Prado make a return to her 2018 levels of activity this year. As a former B grade world champion her talent is undeniable. What remains to be seen is whether she can bridge that gap to the top-10 and really challenge the best elite players on the circuit.
No.20 – Irina Olsacher
The third and final Austrian on our list is Irina Olsacher. While historically a B grade player, that is unlikely to last for too much longer. The talented badminton specialist had a better 2020 than pretty much anyone. Olsacher was able to play two tournaments before the pandemic shut down the FIR World Tour. She won the B grade of both.
Those victories leave the Austrian riding a confidence-boosting six-match winning streak heading into the 2021 season. What also plays into her hands is that six of her eight rankings results have come in 2019 and 2020. That leaves her with very few rankings points coming off of her 2018 rankings and with plenty of room to move upwards.
Olsacher has only just cracked the top-20 but do not expect to see her move out anytime soon. With those back-to-back titles giving her a strong base to build on, Olsacher is a player on the cusp of breaking through and becoming a regular A grade player. While top-10 may be a tough ask in 2021, a top-15 finish is not out of the question at all.
Best of the Rest
Two names particularly stand out as players who could have a huge breakthrough year in 2021 and possibly even challenge for the top-10. Barbara Walsky and Myriam Enmer have both only played one tournament each but made a huge impact on their debut.
Walsky reached the semi-finals of the World Championship in 2019 after huge wins over Anna Wall and Silke Altmann. Walsky already possesses one of the best tennis games on the circuit and it will be fascinating to see how she performs as she plays more tournaments in 2021.
Like Walsky, Enmer also recorded a top-10 victory in her first tournament. At last year’s special Austrian Open presented by GRAWE sidebyside, the French star upset Bettina Bugl and reached the final of the tournament. She lost to Christine Seehofer but, like Walsky, is a fearsome tennis player.
There are definitely other names who could make a jump into the top 20 – Matilda Parslow, Melodie Parrot, Anna Wall and Hana Rabova to name but a few – but it’s Walsky and Enmer who have a realistic shot at making the top-10 given their talent and lack of points to defend.
Who do you think will be in the top-10 at the end of 2021? Will it look much different from how it does now? All we can do is wait and see how it plays out.
Sam Barker / FIR Media Officer
Image Credit / Rene Zwald