by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Editor
Italy, Portugal, Poland and Germany duly secured the valuable places.
However, there were some testing moments. Italy needed the full five matches to beat Turkey with Matteo Gualdi, the backbone of the success; he accounted for both Yücel Ocak (8-11, 11-6, 11-8, 11-6) and Kaan Donmez (11-2, 12-10, 11-7).
Likewise, Tiago Li was the mainstay of Portugal’s three-one win against Romania. He beat both Darius Moyileanu (8-11, 11-7, 11-5, 13-11) and Andrei Tomica (12-10, 11-7, 11-8), whilst teaming with Franciso Silva to secure the doubles (11-3, 12-10, 13-11).
“I was not very confident at the beginning of the match. I decided to play safe and I managed to win. It was the first time I had played Francisco Silva. I was on top of my game; I felt confident. I beat Andrei Tomica, Romania’s number one in straight games. We want to reach the quarter-finals but a medal is our real goal.” Tiago Li
Similarly, Samuel Kulczcki was the architect of Poland’s three-one success against Sweden; he beat Theo Abrahamsson (11-8, 11-7, 10-12, 11-7) and Martin Friis (11-5, 11-4, 11-9), in addition to partnering Maciej Kubik to doubles success (9-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-5).
Hard fought wins; for Germany, life was less exacting. The combination of Felix Wetzel, Daniel Rinderer and Fernando Janz recorded a three-nil win in opposition to Croatia’s Ivor Ban and Filip Borovnijak.
“I felt little bit shaky with my first attack but it did not take long before I settled into a rhythm. In the doubles I partnered Fernando Janz for the first time; we won in three straight games. We were well prepared.” Felix Wetzel
Ukraine, Spain, Sweden and Croatia completed the group stage in third positions in their respective group; they now compete in a play-off round for the right to progress to the main draw. Ukraine meets Spain, Sweden opposes Croatia.
Thus from the first tier group stage of 16 teams (four groups), ten teams qualify for the main draw. The remaining six places are allocated to the outfits who finished in first place in the second tier group stage of 23 teams (six groups).
The respective group winners were the Czech Republic, Norway, Iceland, Greece, Switzerland and Slovakia.
Stag 2017 European Youth Championships: Results – Saturday 15th July