Belgium won the title in Challenge DivisionPhoto: Elena ELISEEVA
Belgium put their trust in youth
Belgium’s Robin DEVOS, Cédric NUYTINCK and Lauric JEAN are the 2015 LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships Men’s Team Challenge Division Champions. Last great success for the team came in 2008 when Yannick VOSTES, Jean-Michel SAIVE and Martin BRATANOV won the bronze medal at the European Championships in St. Petersburg.
Seven years latter, again in Russia, both Jean-Michel SAIVE and Martin BRATONOV are present. Alongside Bart VERMOESEN, Martin BRATANOV is the coach of the team. In the final contest in Division they beat Slovakia 3:2.
Experienced, Lubomir PISTEJ beat both Robin DEVOS (11-9, 11-2, 11-4) and Cédric NUYTINCK (12-10, 12-10, 7-11, 8-11, 11-8) but that was the sum total of the success for the Slovak Republic. Peter SEREDA suffered defeat at the hands of Cédric NUYTINCK in the second match of the fixture (7-11, 11-6, 14-12, 4-11, 11-3); one match later, Alexander VALUCH was beaten by Lauric JEAN (11-7, 11-6, 12-10), before in the vital fifth and concluding match of the engagement, Robin DEVOS accounted for Thomas KEINATH (12-10, 7-11, 11-6, 11-9).
“Team spirit; that was the important factor”, said Martin BRATANOV. “A fighting spirit, they showed that all the time; they have the talent, now they have won in Europe, it may not be the Championship title but it is a title and that must give them self-belief.”
Belgium put their trust in youth and it was repaid.
“ The players have a good attitude, they are together; in the group stage we lost to Israel, that was a bad result for us but we fought back.”
Time, it was a fact with which Jean-Michel Saive concurred.
“We must be patient, stay together and progress one step at a time”, explained Jean-Michel SAIVE. “There is one year difference between each player; Lauric is the oldest, followed by Cédric and Robin.”
Patient but Jean-Michel SAIVE was also optimistic.
“We have to wait and see what changes might be made to the team event for next time but with this team we have a good chance”, continued Jean-Michel SAIVE. “There’s no reason why they should not reach the top eight; that’s just one match away from a medal, in a quarter-final who knows what may happen.”