by Simon Daish
Getting the show on the road through Jakub Dyjas, who saw off Tugay Yilmaz across four games (11-6, 11-7, 9-11, 11-6), Poland hit Turkey with two further blows as Wang Zengyi and Marek Badowski accounted for Ibrahim Gunduz (11-9, 11-8, 11-8) and Abdullah Yigenler (11-7, 11-6, 11-6) to get the job done.
Lubomir Pistej led by example as the Slovak Republic posted a 3-1 home victory over group winners Belarus. Winning the opening and closing fixtures of the match, Pistej negotiated his encounters against Vadim Yarashenka (11-7, 9-11, 11-7, 12–10) and Aliaksandr Khanin (13-11, 11-8, 11-7) with flying colours. Alexander Valuch also chipped in with a four games success at Gleb Shamruk’s expense (11-6, 8-11, 11-6, 11-5).
Russia earned a second 3-0 win in a row as the team of Maksim Kiselev, Taras Merzlikin and Maxim Chaplygin proved too strong for Luxembourg while Hungary and Denmark picked up consolation victories over Austria and Spain. The other Group A fixture between Romania and Belgium will take place on Friday 14th December.
Two Group B encounters went right down to the wire as Israel and Estonia narrowly held off challenges from Norway and Montenegro by 3-2 score-lines.
Elsewhere, Bulgaria, Serbia and Switzerland chalked up home victories against Cyprus, Bosnia and Herzagovina and Scotland respectively while Italy and Lithuania prevailed on their visits of Kosovo and San Marino.
With Stage 1 complete the race to Nantes 2019 now turns to Stage 2 as the six teams finishing in third position in Group A join the successful teams from Group B in another round of qualification action.