by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Represented by Florian Cnudde, Thibaut Darcis and Laurens Devos, the Belgian trio experienced a three-nil defeat at the hands of the French outfit comprising Irvin Bertrand, Alexandre Cassin and Joe Seyfried, before responding to the occasion to overcome Hong Kong’s Kwan Man Ho, Ng Pak Nam and Lau Chun Kit in a contest that went the full five match distance.
Earlier France had beaten Hong Kong by three matches to one and thus sealed first place in a competition, where teams finishing in first and second places in each of the four groups advanced to the quarter-finals.
Success for Belgium meant they were the only outfit in either the Boys’ Team or Girls’ Team events, which had been required to compete in the initial group phase of proceedings on the opening day, the reach the last eight.
One surprise quarter-finalist and there was nearly another; spare a thought for the Czech Republic, the no.9 seeds; they suffered three matches to two defeats at the hands of both Japan, the top seeds and Romania, the no.7 seeds.
Japan duly completed their itinerary in first place but only just; they were stretched the full five match distance by Romania.
A hard fought first place for Japan, for China, the no.2 seeds, life was more comfortable; they beat both Chinese Taipei and Italy by three matches to nil. However, the battle for second place was much closer; the verdict went in favour of the Asian outfit in a full distance five match contest.
A tense contest for second place; it was the same in the one remaining group. Korea Republic, the no.3 seeds, beat the United States by three matches to nil; before recording a three-one success in opposition to DPR Korea. In yet hard fought duel, DPR Korea overcame the United States by the familiar three-two margin.
Meanwhile in the second stage of the Girls’ Team event, the top two listed teams in each group booked last eight places but there were surprises.
Hong Kong, the no.6 seeds beat the Korea Republic, the no.3 seeds by three matches to one; the same score line as France, the no.5 seeds, posted again Romania, the no.4 seeds.
However, it was the only reverse suffered by Korea Republic and by Romania; Hong Kong finished in first place ahead of Korea Republic and Spain; for France it was top spot with Romania and Serbia in second and third positions respectively.
Surprise first places; it was not the situation where the leading outfits in the Girls’ Team event were concerned. Japan, the top seeds, finished ahead of Chinese Taipei, the no.8 seeds with the United States, the no.9 seeds, in third place.
Similarly, it was pole position for China, the no.2 seeds, ahead of Russia, the no.7 seeds and Brazil, the no.10 seeds.