27 Feb 2018

Halmstad born and bred, Jörgen Persson and Åsa Carlsson were the distinguished guests present in their home city on the afternoon of Tuesday 27th February to perform the task of conducting the draw for the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships.

Both performed their tasks with equal proficiency for the tournament to be staged later this year from Sunday 29th April to Sunday 6th May 2018 but perhaps did no do their modern day colleagues any favours?

by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager

Furthermore, both drew Sweden in the same group as the top seeds!

A member of the Swedish outfit that emerged successful in Gothenburg in 1993, the most recent occasion when Sweden hosted a World Championships, Jörgen Persson drew the names for the Men’s event. Åsa Carlsson, who as Åsa Svensson competed in both the Atlanta 1996 and Sydney 2000 Olympic Games performed the honours for the Women’s competition.

She may not be able to match her male counterpart in terms of World champion titles but she holds a unique record. She is the only European player ever to beat the legendary Deng Yaping. In fact she is the only non Chinese born player to beat Deng Yaping, the occasion being the 1991 Hungarian Open.

In the Women’s event, Sweden is the sixth highest rated in a group that comprises, China, the defending champions, in addition to Singapore, Russia, India and Belarus; for the outfit that will undoubtedly be led by Matilda Ekholm, a testing time awaits.

However, a place in the second stage is well within their grasp and with home support that factor may just tip the scales.

A tough task ahead, in the Men’s event, arguably Swedish chances of progress are higher. They are the third highest rated in the group behind top seeds, Germany. Egypt, Romania and Slovenia complete the line-up. Also, perhaps there is an extra factor in their favour in addition to home support; revenge is in the air. At last year’s 2017 European Team Championships, they experienced a quarter-final defeat at the hands of Slovenia.

“The draw looks good for Sweden but no draw at a World Championships will be easy. It is good to avoid China but then it is more likely we will play them in the second round, so it does not make much of a difference. I am looking forward to my team playing in front of a packed house in Halmstad to support us to win as many matches as possible!” Ulf Carlsson, Swedish Men’s Team National Coach

Seeking to revive successes of yesteryear is the task of Swedish men, seeking to reach new horizons that is the goal of the Lusophone countries Portugal and Brazil; they appear in the same group as China, the top seeds, as well as Russia, the Czech Republic and DPR Korea.

Both Portugal and Brazil have ascended to new levels in recent years but if there is one team that is on a high, it is England. Semi-finalists in 2016 in Kuala Lumpur and more recently at the 2018 ITTF World Team Cup in London, England occupies the third highest rated place in their group behind Japan and Chinese Taipei. Belgium, Belarus and Singapore. Interesting, Liu Jiayi, the current Singaporean Men’s Team coach was very much the man who guided the fortunes of the present England team in their formative years.

Farewell for England at the penultimate round in London, it was the same for Korea; they are the second rated team in their group. They are next in line to France but ahead of Austria, India, Croatia and Poland.

Meanwhile, in the Women’s Championship Division, Japan, the second seeds, now very much the main challengers to China, are drawn in the same group as Austria, Hungary, Ukraine, Egypt and the United States.

It was very much a young team that competed recently in London in the guise of 25 year old Kasumi Ishikawa alongside 17 year olds Hina Hayata, Mui Hirano and Mima Ito. The same applied to Chinese Tapei, who fielded the trio of Cheng I-Ching, Chen Szu-Yu and Cheng Hsien-Tu and to Hong Kong for whom Doo Hoi Kem, Lee Ho Ching and Minnie Soo Wai Yam comprised the favoured formation.

In Halmstad they are the respective third and fourth seeds. Chinese Taipei heads a group which includes Romania, the Netherlands, Poland, DPR Korea and the Czech Republic; for Hong Kong they confront Korea, Germany, Thailand, Brazil and Luxembourg.

Teams finishing in the top three places in each of the four groups advance to the main draw; the teams finishing in first place in each group progress directly to the quarter-finals, the teams who conclude the initial phase in second and third positions, compete in round one.

Petra Sörling, ITTF Executive Vice President and President of the Swedish Table Tennis Association was  a member of the top table alongside Didier Leroy, the ITTF Competition Manager, Steen Andersson, the Referee and Bengt Andersson, from the host association. Mikael Andersson, a member of the Organising Committee and Matt Pound ITTF Head of Media, conducted proceedings.

Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships: Stage One – Championship Division – Men

Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships: Stage One – Championship Division – Women

2018 World Team Championships Halmstad

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