by Simon Daish
Sweden finished its campaign with a superb 3-0 victory at home to Belarus: going ahead through Linda Bergström, who needed just three games to see off Katsiaryna Baravok (11-7, 13-11, 11-6), the hosts went from strength to strength as Li Fen and Filippa Bergand registered back-to-back wins against Daria Trigolos (11-8, 11-9, 11-8) and Alina Nikitchanka (11-6, 11-3, 11-9) to bring the match to a close.
The Czech Republic has also gained its invitation to next year’s European Team Championships after successfully coming out on top in a tight encounter with group rivals Spain. Hana Matelova struck twice, beating Galia Dvorak (11-4, 11-7, 6-11, 11-9) and Maria Xiao (11-7, 9-11, 14-12, 13-11) with a third victory courtesy of Karin Adamkova, who prevailed against Zhang Xuan (11-7, 5-11, 11-6, 16-18, 11-7) helping the Czech line-up to a 3-1 win.
Heading into the final round of group fixtures, Ukraine was aware that a perfect result was needed to come away in top spot and a perfect result was what they delivered as Tetyana Bilenko, Solomiya Brateyko and Anastasiya Dymytrenko triumphed 3-0 over Slovenia to leapfrog group favourites Poland.
Like Ukraine, Team Portugal also outperformed the seeding list, topping its group thanks to a convincing 3-0 win over Switzerland while Luxembourg and Croatia reserved second position in their respective groups following victories over Azerbaijan and Italy.
Eliminated but for Denmark the final match day should be considered a positive experience as the team of Stefanie Christensen, Mie Skov and Sophie Walloe achieved its first win of the campaign in Group B, seeing off Estonia by a 3-2 margin.
The Slovak Republic finished atop its group, prevailing 3-1 over Bosnia and Herzegovina while Greece, Bulgaria and Finland also emerged victorious in their final encounters.
Teams finishing in third position in the respective groups in Group A will join the successful teams from Group B in Stage 2 of qualifying – the race for Nantes 2019 continues.