Guided by former Russian international, Irina Palina, it was success for Berlin Eastside very much thanks to Nina Mittelham. The 24-year-old turned the tide in favour of the German club, who had been very close to losing the first two matches in the best of five contest.
Adina Diaconu had given Metz the lead after she gradually adapted to the short pimpled, pen-hold grip, fast attacking style of Shan Xiaona, recovering from a two games to nil deficit (2-11, 8-11, 12-10, 11-7, 6-4).
Then Daniela Monteiro Dodean stood on the brink of doubling the French side’s advantage. Ahead two games to one, at 10-8 in the fourth game she held two match points, but both were saved by Mittelham, with Monteiro Dodean electing for “time out” at 10-9. On her second opportunity Mittelham secured the game, a decisive fifth beckoned; the first to six points, alternate serves, no two-point gap required. Monteiro Dodean established a 5-4 lead, Mittelham saved a third match point; then won the next to clinch a crucial victory (12-10, 3-11, 9-11, 13-11, 6-5).
Back on level terms, Berlin began to turn the screw: Britt Eerland, employing her strong top spin play to good effect, overcame Wu Jiaduo, the 2009 European champion (11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8), before Shan Xiaona returned to the table to end matters. She accounted for Monteiro Dodean in straight games (11-6, 11-3, 11-7).
“It was a very difficult match. We are still adjusting to the new rule of sudden death. Today, once it worked for us, another time it did not. From what I heard the majority of players approve. I heard that it looks good on television but as I said, it takes time to adapt.” Irina Palina
Hard-fought success for Berlin Eastside, it was arguably even harder for Linz AG Froschberg, whos contest against Saint Quentinois went the full five match distance.
In the final, decisive match, Margaryta Pesotska beat Andreea Dragoman in straight games (11-5, 11-8, 14-12), a battle of fearsome backhands.
“I knew I would play the last match. I was confident and I played my game: I had good tactics against Dragoman.” Margartya Pesotska
The win came after Polina Mikhailova had given Saint Quentinois great hope.
Following success for Sofia Polcanova by the minimal one point against Dragoman in the opening match (11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 6-4), Mikhailova blew away Bernadette Szocs (11-8, 11-2, 11-8), before recovering from a two games to one deficit to beat Polcanova in the fourth match of the fixture (12-10, 6-11, 6-11, 11-7, 6-1). In both contests her ability to change from defence to attack, especially executing a controlled forehand top spin, proved her winning methods.
Wins for Mikhailova, now 34 years old, it was success for experience; in the vital third match of the contest which gave Linz AS Froschberg the lead, it was the same. Now 38 years of age, Liu Jia, the 2005 European champion, saved four game points in the opening exchange before establishing her authority to overcome Sarah de Nutte (17-15, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5).
The final between TT Berlin Eastside and Linz AG Froschberg will be played on Tuesday 8 December at 20:15 CET.
TT Berlin Eastside (GER) 3-1 Metz TT (FRA)
Shan Xiaona v Adina Diaconu 11-2, 11-8, 10-12, 7-11, 4-6
Nina Mittelham v Daniela Monteiro Dodean 12-10, 3-11, 9-11, 13-11, 6-5
Britt Eerland v Wu Jiaduo 11-7, 9-11, 11-8, 11-8
Shan Xiaona v Daniela Monteiro Dodean 11-6, 11-3, 11-7
Linz AG Froschberg (AUT) 3-2 TT Saint Quentinois (FRA)
Sofia Polcanova v Andreea Dragoman 11-13, 11-9, 11-6, 9-11, 6-4
Bernadette Szocs v Polina Mikhaikova 8-11, 2-11, 8-11
Liu Jia v Sarah de Nutte 17-15, 11-8, 8-11, 11-5
Sofia Polcanova v Polina Mikhailova 10-12, 11-6, 11-6, 7-11, 1-6
Margaryta Pesotska v Andreea Dragoman 11-5, 11-8, 14-12