07 Mar 2019

A return to Portugal, such is the situation for six of the leading names on duty in the men’s singles event at the Butterfly 2019 European Under 21 Championships; proceedings in the four day tournament commencing in Gondomar on Thursday 7th March.

In February, Austria’s Andreas Levenko, Romania’s Cristian Pletea and Rares Sipos all competed in the 2019 ITTF Challenge Series Plus Portugal Open staged in Lisbon, as did Germany’s Tobias Hippler, Belgium’s Florian Cnudde and the Czech Republic’s Jiri Martinko.

by Ian Marshall, Editor

All competed in the under 21 men’s singles event in Lisbon; in Gondomar the task is to improve on that performance.

The best of the group was Andreas Levenko, the top seed in Gondomar, he reached the semi-final round before losing to Japan’s Shunsuke Togami, the eventual winner.

Meanwhile for Cristian Pletea and Rares Sipos it was a quarter-final exit. Similarly Cristian Pletea suffered at the hands of Shunsuke Togami, Rares Sipos lost to China’s Xiang Peng, the player who was to finish in runners up spot.

Notably, one round earlier, the third round, Cristian Pletea had ended the hopes of Florian Cnudde, the same round as in which Tobias Hippler and Jiri Martinko had disappeared from view. Both experienced defeat at Asian hands; Japan’s Hiroto Shonosuka beat Tobias Hippler, Xiang Peng halted the journey of Jiri Martinko.

Now, some three weeks later, no Asian adversaries, there is little to choose amongst the leading names. Cristian Pletea is the no.3 seed followed by Rares Sipos. Tobias Hippler, Florian Cnudde and Jiri Martinko complete the top eight seeds.

Names present in Gondomar amongst the top eight but not on duty in Lisbon are Slovenia’s Darko Jorgic and Aliaksandr Khanin of Belarus; however both have appeared internationally this year, both being in action at the Seamaster 2019 ITTF World Tour Hungarian Open in Budapest. Tough competition it was farewell in the preliminary rounds.

The top eight sees are not required to compete in the first stage; they commence matters in stage two. They join the 24 qualifiers in a second phase which comprises eight groups, each with three players; players finishing in first and second places in the second stage qualify for the main draw.

2019 Butterfly Europe Under 21 Championships Andreas Levenko

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