by Simon Daish
We start off in Wetzlar where Timo Boll made his final appearance at the German National Championships. Competing in front of 3200 spectators the 37-year-old legend emerged victorious over Patrick Franziska at the final hurdle (11-7, 11-7, 11-5, 11-9) to lift the Men’s Singles trophy for the 13th time. Once again the champion and Boll received a standing ovation from the crowd, bringing a terrific nationals journey to a fitting conclusion.
“It was more emotional than I expected. I’m not stopping yet, but somehow it looks a bit like that. Of course, I was highly motivated to create a grand farewell here. It was the right place – in front of such a great audience!” Timo Boll
Nina Mittelham has hit a new milestone in her career, putting in an impressive shift against Petrissa Solja (11-7, 6-11, 16-14, 11-8, 12-10) to claim the title of Women’s Singles champion for the first time. The 22-year old earned another gold medal, partnering up with Franziska Schreiner to Women’s Doubles glory while Benedikt Duda and Qiu Dang took the gold medal in the Men’s Doubles event. Patrick Franzsika and Petrissa Solja emerged as Mixed Doubles champions.
With positions at the Liebherr 2019 World Table Tennis Championships up for grabs Truls Moregard and Linda Bergström outperformed expectations in Eskilstuna: teenage ace Moregard dethroned 2018 winner Kristian Karlsson (5-11, 11-6, 5-11, 12-10, 8-11, 11-5, 12-10) to claim his first Men’s Singles success and over in the Women’s Singles final the defensive skills of Bergström proved highly effective against Matilda Ekholm (9-11, 5-11, 11-8, 11-9, 11-7, 11-9).
Truls Moregard came away with another title, standing atop the Men’s Doubles podium with Jon Persson. Beaten singles finalist Matilda Ekholm combined well with Mattias Falck to take the plaudits in the Mixed Doubles while Michaela Karlsson and Christina Källberg stole the show in the Women’s Doubles.
Continuing to build upon his fine upturn in form Liam Pitchford has been crowned Men’s Singles champion of England for the fifth time, seeing off Paul Drinkhall in thunderous style (11-6, 11-4, 12-10, 13-11) and there a surprise outcome in the Women’s Singles final as Maria Tsaptsinos defeated three-time champion Tin-Tin Ho (11-5, 13-11, 11-13, 7-11, 11-5, 11-5) to claim her first singles title.
“I’m ecstatic, happy, all those emotions. I played well, so that tops it – if you play well and feel good, it makes a difference.” Maria Tsaptsinos
Liam Pitchford and Maria Tsaptsinos had acquired golds earlier in the day, teaming up with Paul Drinkhall and Tin-Tin Ho in the respective Men’s and Women’s Doubles finals.
In Le Mans Yuan Jia Nan added a fifth Women’s Singles trophy to her collection, prevailing over Marie Migot (7-11, 11-8, 11-4, 11-6, 11-8). Can Akkuzu became Men’s Singles champion of France for the first time, fighting back from a two game deficit to beat Antoine Hachard across six games (10-12, 9-11, 11-7, 11-9, 11-5, 12-10).
“I am very happy, it is a great pride for me to be able to win the French Championships for the fifth time. I was a little under pressure, Marie played very well today and yesterday against Carole. I hope to be able to aim for a sixth title next year!” Yuan Jia Nan
Giorgia Piccolin deserves a shout-out for her performance at the Italian National Championships in Bolzano, taking home the triple crown with her victories in the Women’s Singles, Women’s Doubles and Mixed Doubles events while a strong outing against Daniel Habesohn in the Austrian city of Kapfenberg handed Robert Gardos his third Men’s Singles gold (4-11, 9-11, 11-7, 11-3, 11-6, 12-10).
There was another triple crown won in Serbia as Sabina Surjan, 18, emerged as the dominant force in Zrenjanin and over in Belarus Aliaksandr Khanin and Daria Trigolos added their names to the singles trophies for the first time.
The host city for the upcoming 2019 World Championships, Budapest was also the destination for the Hungarian National Championships – in the race for the Men’s Singles title Adam Szudi beat Nandor Ecseki in straight games (11-6, 11-7, 12-10, 11-8) while the Women’s Singles crown went to Szandra Pergel following her 4-2 victory over Dora Madarasz (5-11, 11-8, 11-8, 11-4, 6-11, 11-4).
Vildan Gadiev and Svetlana Krekina were the names to note in Russia, coming away with the Men’s and Women’s Singles golds with victories over Sadi Ismailov (11-9, 12-14, 9-11, 11-2, 11-8, 13-11) and Yulia Prokhorova (12-10, 11-8, 11-8, 1-11, 15-13). Over in Croatia there was no change at the top as Andrej Gacina and Petra Petek successfully defended their singles titles and it was a similar outcome in Greece with Konstantinos Konstantinopoulos and Katerina Toliou producing the goods in Chania.
For a fourth occasion Diogo Carvalho proved unstoppable in Portugal, outclassing Duarte Mendonca in the Men’s Singles final (11-3, 11-9, 11-5, 11-5). Natalia Bajor continues to establish herself as one of Poland’s young stars with gold medal finishes in the Women’s Singles and Women’s Doubles tournaments and over in Romania it was Ovidiu Ionescu and Daniela Monteiro Dodean who were crowned singles champions.