20 Oct 2016

The Liebherr 2016 ITTF-European Championships have arrived, and with the opening day featuring qualifying group action from the Men's and Women's Singles events and Mixed Doubles preliminary round matches, the level of excitement surrounding the tournament is starting to rise.

by Simon Daish

Hosts Involved From the Start

Szandra Pergel is one of the three Hungarians who will start play in the Women’s Singles qualifying groups on day one, with Mercedes Nagyvardi and Dora Madarasz also entering at the same stage.

Ranked as the highest seed in group four, Pergel will be looking for a first place finish in the group, which also contains Egle Stuckyte (LTU), Charlotte Carey (WAL) and Ivona Petric (MNE).

Madarasz has also been placed in a group of four players alongside Manca Fajmut (SLO), Maria Christoforaki (GRE) and Inta Zdanovska (LAT), while the other host nation competitor Nagyvardi will tackle featuring four opponents: Britt Eerland (NED), Dorina Srebrnjak (CRO), Diana Rusinova (LAT) and Nataliya Aleksyeyenko (UKR).

Favourable Draw for Spanish Players

Spain’s entries have been given favourable draws with three of their contestants taking the top seed spot in their respective qualifying groups.

Galia Dvorak heads Nicole Trosman (ISR), Debora Vivarelli (ITA), Letizia Giardi (SMR) and Alba Xhupi (ALB); Xiao Maria has drawn Aneta Maksuti (SRB), Giorgia Piccolin (ITA) and Annika Lundstrom (SWE), and there will be an intriguing tie in group 14 as Sara Ramirez (ESP) takes on Daria Trigolos (BLR) in what could prove to be the deciding factor in who eventually claims top spot. Airi Avameri (EST) and Zhou Chuyi (AZE) round off the group.

The exception to the rule of a Spanish player having been seeded top of their group is Zhang Xuan who enters lower ranked than Dana Cechova (CZE), but sits ahead of Nathalie Marchetti (BEL) and Anna Kirichenko (FIN).

Strong Opportunity for Serbian Trio

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Pictured: Serbia’s Zsolt Peto (Photo: Rémy Gros)

The qualifying groups for the Men’s Singles category will also begin on the opening day of the European Championships, and three Serbian contestants will go into their groups feeling optimistic about their chances of qualification for the next round.

Zsolt Peto and Aleksandar Karakasevic are both first seeds for their qualifying groups, while Marko Jevtovic will start his campaign off from second place in group 23.

Awaiting Peto on day one are encounters with Greek player Ioannis Sgouropoulos and Niagol Stoyanov of Italy. Karakasevic will face Ewout Oostwouder (NED) and home player Bence Majoros in group 5’s opening day matches, and Jevtovic begins with a fixture against Teodor Alexandrov (BUL) before a tricky tie with Konstantinos Papageorgiou (GRE).

Injury News Hits France

French fans were given some disappointing news before the tournament had even got underway, after it was announced that Alexandre Cassin would miss out on the event due to injury.

Cassin’s withdrawal has left France with just the two players taking part in the qualifying group stage of the Men’s Singles: Tristan Flore and Benjamin Brossier.

Ties against David Jonsson (ISL), Marco Vannucci (SMR) and Aliaksandr Khanin (BLR) are up first for Flore in group 1; Brossier will have the pleasure of meeting Elia Schmid and Yevhen Pryshchepa of Switzerland and Ukraine respectively.

Mixed Doubles Journey to Begin

Alongside the two Singles competitions taking place on day one, will also be preliminary round battles in the Mixed Doubles event.

Two Italian pairings will attempt to progress to the next stage as Niagol Stoyanov and partner Debora Vivarelli face Switzerland’s Lionel Weber and Rachel Moret, while the other duo from Italy Leonardo Mutti and Giorgia Piccolin prepare for Eskil Lindholm (NOR) and Anna Aasebo (NOR).

Tomas Polansky and Renata Strbikova will team up for the Czech Republic, and the combination of Ashley Robinson (IRL) and Charlotte Carey (WAL) are also set to play.

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Liebherr EC Szandra Pergel Zsolt Peto