by Simon Daish
Challenged with the most difficult match on paper with the highest seeded group stage player Debora Vivarelli providing the opposition for no.25 seed Charlotte Carey, but sport isn’t decided on paper, a harsh lesson for the Italian to digest. Carey displayed great character throughout, keeping her cool in the face of adversity to prevail from two games down against the no.5 seed (8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-9).
Seeded two positions below Carey is Turkey’s Sibel Altinkaya in 27th who, like the British competitor, also enjoyed her spell in the spotlight.
Facing stern opposition from Luxembourg’s Sarah De Nutte, the contest proved a much tighter affair than anticipated with Altinkaya producing some of her best table tennis to date. Trailing the seventh seed by the close of game three, Altinkaya summoned up her inner-warrior to fight her way back to a memorable six-game win (12-10, 10-12, 7-11, 12-10, 11-8, 11-9).
The upsets didn’t stop there with Ukraine’s Solomiya Brateyko also getting in on the act. Seeded 28th for the draw, Brateyko couldn’t have asked for a better start to life in Group D following an exceptional 4-2 victory over Spanish no.8 seed Galia Dvorak (14-12, 11-7, 11-4, 9-11, 9-11, 11-7).
Coming out of retirement in hope of securing a dream spot at Tokyo 2020, Mie Skov is another player to keep an eye on in Guimarães and she nearly struck the perfect opening to her qualification efforts. The 34-year-old from Denmark, seeded 39th, recovered from a two-game deficit to force Mateja Jeger down to the wire. However, the Croatian no.18 seed held her nerve to sneak over the finish line (11-6, 11-6, 8-11, 8-11, 13-11, 10-12, 11-8).
Daria Trigolos has been left with work to do in Group J with the Belarusian no.13 seed suffering a shock defeat at the hands of Lithuania’s Kornelija Riliskyte, seeded at no.36 (11-2, 6-11, 5-11, 16-14, 11-5, 11-6). Meanwhile, a star name in recent weeks, French teenager Prithika Pavade, no.34 seed, emerged victorious over Czech Republic no.15 seed Karin Adamkova in her opening contest (11-5, 11-7, 11-4, 7-11, 11-9).