by Simon Daish
Facing a tough opening Group B fixture against the Czech Republic, home side Luxembourg needed the full support of the crowd in what was a tense encounter.
Renata Strbikova gave the Czech Republic the early lead in the match following a positive display against Sarah De Nutte (7-11, 10-12, 11-9, 6-11) and while Ni Xialian was able to level the scores with a straight games win against Iveta Vacenovska (11-6, 11-2, 11-4), the Czech Republic’s lead was soon restored as Hana Matelova saw off Danielle Konsbruck (10-12, 11-5, 6-11, 6-11).
However, the host nation kept up the fight and respective victories for Sarah De Nutte and Ni Xialian over Iveta Vacenovska (6-11, 12-10, 14-12, 11-6) and Renata Strbikova (11-8, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9) gave Luxembourg the win by a 3-2 scoreline.
“I am very satisfied with the result, which was unexpected because the Czech team is very strong. All the players played well even though some did not win their matches. I was very nervous and could not really play her at her game as it was at the beginning in front of a big home crowd. I’m very happy about the support of the public because that motivated the players to do their best”, Sarah De Nutte.
Romania has made a strong start to Group B after registering a comfortable 3-0 victory over the Netherlands.
Elizabeta Samara opened the tie with an impressive performance against Li Jie (11-3, 11-3, 11-8) before Daniela Monteiro-Dodean went on to double the Romanian lead with a four games success in her fixture against Britt Eerland (7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-6).
The win was then sealed by Bernadette Szocs, who recovered from two games to one down to defeat Kim Vermaas across five ends (11-7, 10-12, 8-11, 11-7, 11-6) to send Romania right to the top of the group.
“I was well prepared against Li Jie and played faster than my opponent who I dominated… Next match we will face the Czech Republic. We know them and we hope to be as strong as them and play as a team by winning one match each so we will have the best possible motivation”, Elizabeta Samara.
Germany and Hungary have both made winning starts to their European Championships campaigns triumphing over Sweden (3-1) and Croatia (3-0), while Austria and Portugal ended up on the winning side in their encounters claiming 3-1 victories against Group C opponents Ukraine and Spain.
Over in Group D Russia came back from a trailing position to beat Belarus over four matches, and Poland registered a straightforward 3-0 result against France.
Natalia Partyka opened the scoring for Poland with a fine effort against Stephanie Loeuillette (11-7, 11-8, 12-10), and the result was put beyond any doubt after Katarzyna Grzybowska-Franc and Li Qian overcame challenges from Laura Gasnier (9-11, 11-5, 10-12, 11-6, 11-3) and Judith Liu (11-8, 8-11, 11-8, 11-8) respectively to leave the French team disappointed.
“Natalia Partyka was my opponent and she had a very good service and didn’t make any mistakes unlike me. I am waiting to play against Belarus and Russia and I hope that our team will win”, Stephanie Loeuillette.
Wales put in a fantastic display in the opening round of Women’s Challenge Division matches with the team of Charlotte Carey, Chloe Thomas and 11-year-old Anna Hursey powering to a 3-1 victory over Bulgaria.
Tin-Tin Ho looked in impressive form as England saw off Greece, while Italy comfortably negotiated its tie against Serbia.
The Women’s Standard Division featured three matches on the opening day at the European Championships with Bosnia and Herzegovina, Norway and Estonia enjoying success.