by Simon Daish
Following on from a 0-3 away success in Preston, a place in the Women’s Championship Division has been sealed by Spain after the team of Maria Xiao, Galia Dvorak and Claudia Caymel posted a 3-0 home triumph over visitors England.
Both sides fielded slightly different lineups than seen in the previous encounter as Claudia Caymel stepped up for Spain, while Maria Tsaptsinos and Karina Le Fevre were called up to the England squad.
Despite the hosts picking up a strong result overall, all three of the matches went down to the wire.
Maria Xiao got Spain off to a positive start with a fifth end comeback victory over Maria Tsaptsinos (7-11, 9-11, 11-9, 11-4, 11-9), and subsequent wins for Galia Dvorak and Claudia Caymel over Tin-Tin Ho (11-8, 11-6, 12-14, 9-11, 11-8) and Karina Le Fevre (7-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7) brought the tie to a close.
Croatia is also through to the top division for the Liebherr 2017 European Championships with a second straight triumph against Serbia.
The home crowd witnessed their team suffer a disappointing and somewhat nervous start to the match as Dorina Srebrnjak and Mirela Durak lost out to Dragana Vignjevic (7-11, 10-12, 3-11) and Izabela Lupulesku (10-12, 6-11, 12-10, 6-11) to put Serbia 0-2 ahead.
However, Croatia recovered well with Tian Yuan reducing the score deficit as she saw off Andrea Todorovic across four games (11-7, 10-12, 11-8, 13-11), before Ivana Malobabić and Mirela Durak completed the comeback with respective successes against Serbia’s Izabela Lupulesku (11-6, 11-9, 11-3) and Aneta Maksuti (11-5, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8).
Sweden proved too strong for Slovakia for the second match in a row after victories from Li Qian, Matilda Ekholm and Linda Bergström contributed towards a 1-3 away win in Bratislava while the Netherlands registered two 3-0 victories over Turkey to seal its place in the Championship Division. Belarus is the other nation to progress from the play-offs at the expense of Wales.
The Liebherr 2017 ITTF European Championships are set to take place in Luxembourg between Wednesday 13th and Sunday 17th September.