02 Apr 2018

Players representing Sweden and Spain enjoyed a positive start to Men's Singles qualification group stage action at the 2018 ITTF Challenge Slovenia Open in Otocec and one competitor who impressed in particular on Monday 2nd April was Simon Söderlund.

by Simon Daish

Named as the no.3 player in Group 1 but Simon Söderlund ended the day as the star name of the group; the Swedish contestant opened with a five games win against Sebastian Echevarria (12-14, 11-6, 12-10, 11-5, 11-6) before earning a terrific result in his encounter with Luxembourg’s Eric Glod (9-11, 11-8, 11-6, 13-15, 6-11, 11-5, 11-3) to seal his place at the top of the group.

Elias Ranefur was another player to give Swedish table tennis fans a reason to cheer with his solid outing against Brazil’s Vitor Santos in Group 14 (11-7, 11-8, 11-5, 11-5). Viktor Brodd, Anders Eriksson, Simon Berglund, Harald Andersson and Simon Arvidsson also contributed opening day victories for Sweden.

The Spanish team also deserves a big mention for its display with none of its five athletes suffering opening day defeats in Otocec.

Starting his qualification journey with a straight games win over the host nation’s Crt Grm Urbancic (11-5, 11-3, 11-8, 11-7), Guillermo Martinez can seal his place at the summit of the group with a positive outcome from his final Group 35 tie against Argentina’s Francisco Sanchi. Joan Masip, Carlos Franco and Carlos Caballero also remain undefeated but there was a narrow escape for Miguel Vilchez, who was pushed right down to the wire by Hungary’s Sebestyen Kovacs (11-7, 11-8, 8-11, 11-6, 10-12, 4-11, 12-10).

Italy’s Antonino Amato has secured first position in Group 10 with a match to spare; he registered a straight games win in his opening group fixture with Gustavo Yokota of Brazil (11-9, 14-12, 12-10, 11-8) before inflicting a seven games defeat upon Kazakhstan’s Denis Zholudev (11-4, 11-4, 11-8, 9-11, 16-18, 9-11, 11-8) to bring his day’s work to a dramatic close.

Nandor Ecseki safely negotiated his first qualifying outing in Otocec against Slovak opponent Samuel Kaluzny (11-4, 11-8, 11-7, 11-9), but there was no such joy for Puerto Rico’s Brian Afanador who lost out to Croatia’s Tomislav Kolarek in his opening match (11-3, 11-5, 7-11, 11-6, 8-11, 11-3).

Challenge Series 2018 Slovenia Open Brian Afanador Simon Soderlund Antonino Amato Guillermo Martinez

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