by Simon Daish
England’s Liam Pitchford is one player who seems to deliver his best table tennis in team events, picking up some of the biggest results of his career competing alongside his fellow countrymen.
Playing a key role in England’s bronze medal campaign two years back at the 2016 World Team Championships, Liam Pitchford pulled off major upsets against the likes of Kristian Karlsson and Simon Gauzy in Kuala Lumpur. More recently at the 2018 ITTF Team World Cup, Pitchford once again delivered for his country with standout victories over Tomokazu Harimoto and Hugo Calderano to help England to another podium finish.
Fast-forward to just the second day of play at the Liebherr 2018 World Team Championships and Pitchford appears to be at it again: so far in Halmstad, Pitchford has triumphed over Vladimir Samsonov, Chen Chien-An and Chuang Chih-Yuan.
Darko Jorgic also appears to revel as a team player, helping to put his country on the table tennis map with a couple of standout performances at last year’s European Table Tennis Championships. Still in the early stages of his career, Jorgic has already made a big impression on the world stage beating Austria’s Robert Gardos and Germany’s Dimitrij Ovtcharov as Slovenia went on to secure a stunning third position finish.
Back-to-back defeats at the 2018 World Team Championships for Jorgic in Slovenia’s opening fixtures with Hong Kong and Egypt but plenty of reason for the young athlete to feel optimistic about his display in Halmstad so far, pushing Wong Chun Ting and Omar Assar right down to the wire.
The one name that comes to mind in the women’s game is Dutch player Britt Eerland who, like Liam Pitchford and Darko Jorgic, has picked up some of her best results in team matches. Following a terrific win for Britt Eerland against Austrian opponent Sofia Polcanova at the 2016 World Team Championships, the Dutch competitor went on to see off Sarah De Nutte, Hana Matelova and most impressively Liu Jia as the Netherlands posted a bronze medal finish at the Liebherr 2017 European Team Championships.
So far in Halmstad Eerland’s record will show that from her opening four encounters she has the same number of wins and defeats – two apiece – but in reality the Dutch player is unlucky not to have another victory to her name. Despite a brave showing against DPR Korea’s Kim Sing I, Eerland ultimately lost out to the Rio 2016 bronze medallist across five games but ended the opening day on a massive high with successful outcomes from her encounters with Romania’s Irina Ciobanu and Adina Diaconu.