by Ian Marshall, ITTF Publications Manager
It is the first time that Spain has hosted a European Championships and the third occasion when only the five individual events – Men’s Singles, Women’s Singles, Men’s Doubles, Women’s Doubles, Mixed Doubles – will be staged; the one further instance was in 2012 in Herning.
Moreover it is the Diamond Jubilee tournament; it is now six decades since the inaugural tournament was staged in Budapest in 1958, a tournament which witnessed success for the host nation with Zoltan Berczik winning the Men’s Singles title, the counterpart Women’s Singles crown being claimed by Eva Koczian. Significantly at the semi-final stage, Eva Koczian beat Romania’s Angelica Rozeanu, the player who commencing in 1950 won the Women’s Singles title at the World Championships on six consecutive occasions.
She was never to win the continental title; that is one of the fascinations of the European Championships, Jean-Philippe Gatien of France won the Men’s Singles title at the 1993 World Championships in Gothenburg, a decade later Austria’s Werner Schlager followed suit in Paris. Likewise Croatia’s Primorac and Poland’ Andrzej Grubba, both won the Men’s World Cup; yet none of them became European champion.
Conversely, England’s John Hilton secured the Men’s Singles title at the 1980 European Championships in Berne; the odds 1,000 to 1.
Equally, not to such a great extent, the winners of the respective Men’s Singles and Women’s Singles titles two years ago in Budapest, Frenchman Emmanuel Lebesson and Turkey’s Hu Melek did not start as favourites for gold.
Upsets in Alicante, history suggests it is more than possible; a fascinating tournament awaits. Book your seats now!
Liebherr 2018-ITTF European Championships: On-line tickets