by Simon Daish
Men’s Championship Division
Victories from Emmanuel Lebesson, Simon Gauzy and Quentin Robinot saw France storm to a perfect 3-0 success against Poland in the final round of group stage fixtures but a brace from Andrej Gacina in his encounters with Lim Jonghoon (11-9, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8) and Lee Sangsu (8-11, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9) helped Croatia to a shock 3-1 win over Korea Republic.
With Austria beating India 3-2 in the other group match the results mean that Korea Republic and Austria advance from Group D in the top two positions while Croatia takes third spot with a superior head-to-head record over fourth seeds France.
Hong Kong has booked its place in the top 12 but that very nearly wasn’t the case; trailing rivals Romania by a 0-2 deficit, Hong Kong recovered through Lam Siu Hang and Wong Chun Ting to level the tie before Ho Kwan Kit saved the day for the seventh seeds with a dramatic victory over Hunor Szocs (6-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-9, 11-9).
Germany and Sweden are the two other sides to progress from Group A with China, Brazil and Portugal moving through from Group B. England ended its Group C campaign with a fifth consecutive success while Japan and Chinese Taipei had to settle for second and third positions respectively.
Women’s Championship Division
Over in the Women’s Championship Division it was Ukraine who stole the spotlight yet again with an outstanding display against Singapore to reach the last eight for the first time in the history of the event: In a match that went right down to the wire Tetyana Bilenko stepped up to beat Yu Mengyu in straight games (12-10, 11-9, 11-8) as Ukraine completed a shock 3-2 win over the no.8 seeded team to reach the quarter-finals.
Another major side to fall was Chinese Taipei as the third seeds lost out to Hong Kong despite Cheng I-Ching’s early win against Soo Wai Yam Minnie (8-11, 7-11, 11-6, 11-4, 11-7).
DPR Korea continued to impress with a big 3-0 win over ninth seeds Russia while two wins for Sofia Polcanova saw Austria surpass Germany.