by Ian Marshall, Editor
Tense hard fought matches were the order of the day as Marek Badowski narrowly beat Italy’s Niagol Stoyanov (13-11, 12-10, 8-11, 3-11, 11-9, 8-11, 12-10) and in a contest just as close, Diogo Carvalho defeated Hungary’s Bence Majoros (11-4, 10-12, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9, 3-11, 15-13).
In a similar vein, Tomas Tregler needed the full seven games to overcome Slovenia’s luckless Deni Kozul who ended the group without a win to his name; the group in which eyes focused very much on Denmark’s Michael Maze, the winner in 2009 in Stuttgart. He duly beat Poland’s Tomas Kotowsky (8-11, 11-4, 11-6, 11-7, 12-10) to secure second place and possible progress to the main draw. A total of 23 groups in the initial qualification phase, 18 second placed players are drawn at random to compete in preliminary round.
“It has been a while since I played the best of seven matches. It has been a while since I played in a tournament at all. After the Olympic Games in 2012 I did not play in a proper competition. You cannot compare training and competition. Here, at the beginning I had three match points against Tregler but I lost. Now I am second in the group; I have to wait to see would I be lucky loser.” Michael Maze
Similarly there were testing times for Ewout Oostwouder who beat Aliaksandr Khanin of Belarus (11-2, 8-11, 11-5, 11-5, 12-14, 11-5) and Martin Allegro who caused the host nation heartache by overcoming Jesus Cantero (10-12, 11-5, 17-19, 11-9, 13-11, 15-13).
Somewhat differently for Yevhen Pryshchepa it was a straight games success against the Czech Republic’s Tomas Konecny (11-5, 11-7, 11-9, 13-11), as it was for Pavel Platonov in opposition to Belgium’s Robin Devos.
Surprise first names; it was the same with regards to Russia’s Vildan Gadiev and Serbia’s Zsolt Peto, players who the previous day had beaten the highest rated in their respective groups. Vildan Gadiev, who had accounted for Denmark’s Anders Lind (10-12, 11-6, 6-11, 11-7, 6-11, 11-3, 11-8), maintained his good form to beat Azerbaijan’s Mohammad Ibrahim Ansari (11-5, 11-6, 11-7, 14-12), similarly, Zsolt Peto successful in opposition to Austria’s Andreas Levenko (1-11, 11-13, 11-8, 8-11, 11-2, 11-5, 12-10), concluded his first phase matches with victory in opposition to Iceland’s Magnus Ulfarsson (11-3, 11-3, 11-5, 11-5).
Defeats for notable names but a degree of consolation and a ray of hope; with the exception of Deni Kozul it was their only defeat and thus second place in the group.
Otherwise as proceedings in the group phase came to a conclusion it was success for the principal names; the one leading player to experience difficulties being Switzerland’s Lionel Weber. In his concluding group contest he was beaten by Hungary’s Tamas Lakatos in seven games (5-11, 8-11, 11-9, 8-11, 11-5, 11-8, 11-5). One day earlier Callum Evans of Wales had lost to Lionel Weber in four straight games (11-4, 11-6, 12-10, 11-9) but by the same margin had accounted for Tamas Lakatos. Thus games ratio decided, it was first place for Lionel Weber (7:4), followed by Callum Evans (4:4) and Tamas Lakatos (4:7).
Difficulties for Tamas Lakatos; there were no such heartaches for Finland’s Benedek Olah, England’s Sam Walker or Frenchman Alexandre Robinot, all topped their groups without defeat as did Portugal’s João Geraldo and Hungary’s Nandor Ecseki.