28 Jul 2017

The race to achieve qualification for the Liebherr 2017 ITTF European Championships is drawing ever closer to its conclusion, with the final round of qualifying group stage matches having been played out in the battle to qualify for the Women's Championship Division.

Andrea Todorović claimed two important victories on the final group stage match day to put Serbia on its way to the Play Offs with a 3-2 victory over Lithuania, while both England and Spain progressed to the Play Offs following successful outcomes against Slovenia and Switzerland respectively.

by Simon Daish

Andrea Todorović headed into the match against Lithuania off the back of a positive weekend at the 2017 Serbian National Championships where she won the Women’s Singles title.

More success was yet to come for Andrea Todorović as she beat Lithuania’s Ugne Baskutyte (11-1, 11-6, 5-11, 11-3) and Ruta Paskauskiene (14-12, 11-6, 11-8), with Serbia going on to edge out the visitors.

Ruta Paskauskiene and Elge Stuckyte claimed victories for Lithuania against Aneta Maksuki (10-12, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5, 8-11) and Viktoria Truzsinszki (8-11, 7-11, 10-12) respectively, but Aneta Maksuki avenged her earlier defeat as she triumphed over Ugne Baskutyte in the deciding match (11-3, 7-11, 13-11, 11-5) to give Serbia a 3-2 win.

Awaiting Serbia in the Play Offs is a tie with Croatia. Group D runners up Croatia put in a fine display against opponents Finland as Mateja Jeger, Dorina Srebrnjak and Tian Yuan all contributed straight game successes for the Croatians.

England picked up its second 3-2 victory over hosts Slovenia in Group A, with the lineup of Kelly Sibley, Tin-Tin-Ho and Maria Tsaptsinos putting the away team into the Play Offs.

The match didn’t start particularly well for England as Kelly Sibley suffered an opening defeat to home player Alex Galič (9-11, 6-11, 11-13) and while Tin-Tin Ho’s win against Ana Tofant (7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-5, 11-8) briefly brought the tie level, Slovenia’s Anca Fajmut registered a straight games win over Maria Tsaptsinos (11-9, 11-9, 11-4) to give the hosts a 1-2 lead.

However, all was not lost for England and victories for Tin-Tin Ho and Kelly Sibley in the remaining matches against Alex Galič (11-7, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7) and Ana Tofant (11-9, 11-5, 12-10) gave England the 3-2 win.

Spain’s Galia Dvorak (pictured) showed true composure as she recovered from a difficult start to win the opener against Rahel Aschwanden (Photo: Rémy Gros)

Next up for England is a tricky encounter against Spain in the Play Offs. Despite Spain’s Galia Dvorak dropping the opening two games of the opening match she recovered to beat Switzerland’s Rahel Aschwanden by claiming the next three games (9-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-5), and it wasn’t long before wins for Spain’s Maria Xiao and Raquel Bonilla followed as they saw off Rachel Moret (11-7, 11-2, 11-7) and Celine Reust (6-11, 11-7, 11-5, 11-8).

Both the Netherlands and Sweden will have to settle for the Play Offs, after both countries finished in the runners up positions in Group B and Group J respectively despite triumphing over Greece and Belgium in the concluding round of group stage matches.

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