by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
No replacement has been named for the outfit under the care of coach, Patrick Chila, who represented France at three ITTF Team World Cup competitions. He was present in 1994 in in Nîmes, the following year in Atlanta, as well as in Magdeburg in 2007 when the tournament returned to the international calendar.
Now, the onus of responsibility is even greater on the shoulders of Emmanuel Lebesson, named at no.24 on the current World Rankings, if France is to make a major impact, then the 30 year must find the form of his life once again. He needs to replicate the form displayed at the 2016 European Championships staged in the Hungarian capital city of Budapest, when contrary to expectations he won the Men’s Singles title. Pertinently he beat Simon Gauzy in the final.
Equally, there is a greater responsibility now placed on the shoulders of brothers Quentin and Alexandre Robinot who alongside Alexandre Cassin complete the French line-up.
All have excelled in teenage days. Quentin Robinot won the Junior Boys’ Singles title at the 2009 European Youth Championships in Prague, Alexandre Cassin secured the same title in 2014 in Riva del Garda and two years later in Zagreb.
Selection for London; Quentin and Alexandre Robinot become the third set of brothers to compete in an ITTF Team World Cup. Belgium’s Jean Michel and Philippe Saive were present in 1991 in Barcelona; Khalid and Omar Assar were members of the Egyptian squad in 2011 in Magdeburg and in 2013 in Guangzhou.
Most worthy players but the withdrawal of Simon Gauzy affects the seeding, the order of merit being determined by the top three names on duty in each team as per the current World Team rankings.
Formerly the no.6 seeds, France now becomes the no.9 seeds; Brazil represented by Hugo Calderano, Gustavo Tsuboi and Eric Jouti now move one step higher to become the no.6 seeds. A climb of one place; it is the same for Sweden’s Kristian Karlsson, Anton Källberg, Pär Gerell and Elias Ranefur who are now the no.7 seeds, as it is for the host nation’s Paul Drinkhall, Sam Walker, Liam Pitchford, David McBeath and Tom Jarbis; they are now the no.8 seeds.
The draw takes place at the Grange Tower Hotel at 3.00pm on Wednesday 21st February.