Sarah DE NUTTE gave Luxembourg dream startPhoto: Rémy Gros ITTF
The reigning European champion in Women’s Teams Event from Ekaterinburg, team of Germany was almost caught by Sweden’s furious start at the LIEBHERR ITTF European Championships, but they managed to recover fast and to grab the opening match victory in the Group stage of the proceedings 3:1.
Former European Champion from 2013 LI Fen was not in the mood for charity against best-ranked European player HAN Ying. Swede succeeded in four games. The gap widener after SHAN Xiaona faced Matilda EKHOLM. Matilda had four match points, but SHAN recovered to make complete turnover. SHAN won the match and it was up to young Nina MITTELHAM to secure the advantage for Germany on her very first appearance at the European Championships in senior category. She stood the test against Linda BERGSTROM. On her second exit to the table HAN was fast and effective. She beat EKHOLM to seal the match.
“I am happy that my team gave me another chance to play after opening match defeat. I was very nervous at the beginning but my games get steadier as the time went by,” said HAN
The Nina’s adversary was someone she knows well.
“I played against Linda BERGSTROM many times in younger categories and I always beat her,” said MITTELHAM. “However, it was not easy when I saw 2:0 for EKHOLM during my warm up. Coming to game after two matches to null in reverse makes you fell under great pressure. Thankfully SHAN leveled and it busted my self confidence.
After she won the title in singles at the European Youth Championships in 2013 Nina was absent from the game most of the time.
“I was injured. I struggled for two years, but in last three months I managed to recover completely and to have good preparations. I suffered from back injury for a long time.”
Luxembourg created a big upset by beating no. 7 seeds Czech Republic. Once again legendary NI Xia Lian was a backbone of the host nation success, but with the win over the European’s no. 24, experienced Iveta VACENOVSKA, inspired Sarah DE NUTTE proved she is feeling good playing at home.
“I am very happy with the result. Czech team is very strong. All the players played well even though some did not win their matches. I was very nervous and could not really play my game as it was the beginning in front of a big home crowd...but I was very happy about the support of the spectators because that motivated the players to do their best. No special tactics was required and in the second game I was mentally stronger and got into the right rhythm,” explained Sarah DE NUTTE.
Sedded no. two in women’s Event, Romania overcame Netherlands in straight matches. In the opening duel Elizabeta SAMARA prevailed against LI Jie.
“ In our recent history, we never managed to beat Dutch team. We did it for a first time in qualifications,” said SAMARA. ”We were prepared for this duel. I played very aggressive and fast against LI and I dominated in two opening games. LI changed the tactics and made a lead in the third game, but I caught her by playing first point in the middle. I was stronger mentally at the end.”
Austria overcame Ukraine 3:1. Sofia POLCANOVA was drawn to position no. one in her team.
“Today my coach decided to put me in the number one. To be patient is one of my secrets and my tactic against my adversary. GAPONOVA is a defender, because of this I try to play more and more chop against her and I attack her from the first ball untill the end of match,” said POLCANOVA.
LIU Jia started very good against Tetyana BILENKO; she was very confident and secured opening game win.
“After 2-0 for us we haven’t we were not under pressure any more but our young player Karoline MISCHEK was a little bit nervous,” explained POLCANOVA.