England men have qualified for the European Championships by topping their group in this weekend’s Stage 2 matches, but England women have missed out following defeat to Belgium today.
The men, playing in Estonia in a four-team group alongside Ukraine, Italy and the hosts, needed one individual match win against Italy today to ensure their place at the finals.
In the event they won 3-2 to top the group following yesterday’s win double against Ukraine (3-2) and Estonia (3-0).
World No 69 Niagol Stoyanov put Italy ahead by defeating Sam Walker 3-0, and he later pulled them level with another three-straight win, over Tom Jarvis.
In between, Paul Drinkhall got the all-important point on the board for England with a four-game win over world No 96 Mihai Bobocica and Liam Pitchford then put the Leopards in front by defeating Leonardo Mutti (WR 155) in three.
England had done enough, but yesterday’s hero Walker made sure they finished with a 100% record as he defeated Bobocica in four.
England women had a winner-take-all clash against Belgium at BATTS TTC in Harlow, both nations having been defeated 3-0 by Spain yesterday.
England made a good start as Tin-Tin Ho looked confident throughout her opening clash with Margo Degraef, world ranked 192, and duly won in three, but Lisa Lung hit back for Belgium against Maria Tsaptsinos, starting quickly and then withstanding a fightback as Tsaptsinos took the third.
Charlotte Bardsley was selected to take on Nathalie Marchetti and it proved a struggle for the youngster as world No 150 Marchetti won the first six points of the match and went on to complete a 3-0 win with a powerful display.
The clash between Ho and world No 127 Lung was always likely to be all-important and it was the Belgian girl who took it in three to send her nation to the finals in France in September and ensure that England will miss out.
Men’s Group 3
England 3 Italy 2
Niagol Stoyanov bt Sam Walker 3-0 (11-3, 11-4, 11-9)
Paul Drinkhall bt Mihai Bobocica 3-1 (11-4, 7-11, 11-8, 11-7)
Liam Pitchford bt Leonardo Mutti 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-5)
Stoyanov bt Tom Jarvis 3-0 (11-9, 11-3, 11-7)
Walker bt Bobocica 3-1 (11-8, 8-11, 11-3, 11-5)
Women’s Group 2
Belgium 3 England 1
Tin-Tin Ho bt Margo Degraef 3-0 (11-7, 11-7, 11-9)
Lisa Lung bt Maria Tsaptsinos 3-1 (11-3, 11-9, 9-11, 11-8)
Nathalie Marchetti bt Charlotte Bardsley 3-0 (11-2, 11-3, 11-4)
Lung bt Ho 3-0 (11-5, 11-6, 11-8)