by Simon Daish
Simon Gauzy gave the French side an early confidence boost following his straight games win against Jakub Dyjas in the opener (11-8, 11-4, 12-10), but that advantage was soon cancelled out as the European Men’s Singles champion Emmanuel Lebesson suffered a disappointing result against Wang Zengyi (11-6, 9-11, 8-11, 7-11).
Title hopefuls France needed a quick response and that is exactly what Tristan Flore provided for the team with Polish opponent Robert Floras proving unable to capitalise on his early lead (8-11, 11-4, 12-10, 11-5), and a great recovery effort from Emmanuel Lebesson against Jakub Dyjas (6-11, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-7) completed the win.
“We are a team which you have to beat. It will be difficult for everyone to win against us, but also for us every game is a challenge. We are still a young team… First place is very important for us, to not fall against big teams like Germany and Portugal in the quarter-finals”, Simon Gauzy.
The other country sitting on two points in Group D is Ukraine following the team’s successful outcome against Romania.
Ovidiu Ionescu gave the Romanian side something to cheer about after he came through his tie against Viktor Yefimov (7-11, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7), but it was the Ukrainian competitors who were celebrating following the conclusion of the match.
Kou Lei emerged triumphant in both of his encounters against Hunor Szocs (13-11, 11-8, 11-4) and Ovidiu Ionescu (11-6, 11-8, 9-11, 11-5), while Yevhen Pryshchepa saw off Adrian Crisan across four games (11-9, 12-10, 4-11, 14-12).
Despite Luxembourg’s best efforts the crowd witnessed a defeat for the host nation as Greece raced to a 3-0 victory.
Panagiotis Gionis got Greece off to a winning start in the tie as the experienced defender frustrated home contestant Gilles Michely (11-5, 12-14, 11-7, 11-9), before Konstantinos Papageorgiou and Anastasios Riniotis negotiated their fixtures against Eric Glod (11-8, 12-10, 11-3) and Luka Mladenovic (11-9, 11-3, 11-4) to draw the match to a close.
“My first match was difficult because it was my starter in the European Championships and I didn’t know the hall. I played against Gilles Michelly. I know his style well because we have played many times in the past. He is a very good technical player. So I had to be focused on his serves. I tried to attack against him. In the end of the third game I found my rhythm and I was able to concentrate more so I could overcome him”, Panagiotis Gionis.
The other Group D fixture saw Anton Kallberg, Kristian Karlsson and Mattias Karlsson all register victories as Sweden beat Russia by three matches to nil.
“My team played very well and they gave me a good opportunity because we had a 2-0 lead in the score when my match started. Even so I was tense before my match started because Russian players are strong… I am very glad that we beat Russia 3-0!”, Mattias Karlsson.
There was a first Group F win in the Men’s Challenge Division for Switzerland with Lionel Weber’s brace leading the team to a 3-1 triumph over Bulgaria.
Turkey picked up its second consecutive win with a strong performance against the Czech Republic, while Finland came through its encounter against Estonia.