ECLW draw: Defending ECLW champion and reigning ETTU Cup Women winner in Group A
Group A gathers Croatia`s Dr. Casl, France`s Metz TT and 2012/13 ECLW runner-up Hungary`s Budaorsi
The draw for the 2018/19 European Champions League Women, held today at the Victor's Residenz-Hotel in Saarbrücken, delivered interesting Group A with defending ECLW champion Dr. Casl (No. 1 seed) from Croatia, reigning ETTU Cup Women winner Metz TT (No. 7) from France and 2012/13 ECLW runner-up Budaorsi (No. 11) from Hungary.
The draw was conducted by ETTU Deputy Secretary General Pierre KASS, and with an assistance of ETTU President Ronald KRAMER, ITTF's European Marketing Manager Jonny Cowan and Athletes Commission Chairwoman and ALCL TT Grand-Quevilly player Galia DVORAK. Twelve clubs are divided in four groups, like in last several seasons, as best two from each group secure their spots for the quarter-finals.
Four-times ECLW winner, Germany`s TTC Berlin Eastside (No. 3 seed) will share Group B with 2015/16 ECLW semi-finalist, UCAM Cartagena (No. 10) from Spain and one of three newcomers in the upcoming season, Etival Clairefontaine ASRTT (No. 6) from France.
Group C gathers two-times ECLW champion, Austria`s Linz AG Froschberg (No. 4 seed), 2016/17 quarter-finalist TT Saint-Quentinois (No. 5) and newcomer from Portugal, Sporting Clube de Portugal SCP (No. 12). Portugal`s club is unique one with two sides in the Table Tennis Champions Leagues, Men`s and Women`s.
Two-times ECLW runner up KTS Enea Siarka Tarnobrzeg (No. 2 seed) from Poland, Czech Republic`s SKST Stavoimpex Hodonin (No. 8) and newcomer from Austria LZ Linz Froschberg will play in Group D.
Reigning champion and No 1 seed Dr. Časl from Croatia strengthened its roster with two famous names, Netherlands’ NI Xia Lian (WR 41) and Turkey`s HU Melek (WR 50), actual individual European champion, who participated in the 2017/18 ECLW final in Bursa`s jersey. Chinese Chinese LIU Gaoyang (WR 392) has concluded the list of newcomers, while the members of the 2017/18 line-up extended their contracts - Hong Kong`s DOO Hoi Kem (WR 13), LI Jie (29) and YU Fu (WR 35) – as well as domestic players Dorina SREBRNJAK (WR 152) and Mirela DURAK (WR 292),
KTS Enea Siarka Tarnobrzeg has kept the same leading quartet - Elizabeta SAMARA (WR 19), HAN Ying (WR 26), LI Qian (WR 31) and Viktoryia PAVLOVICH (WR 55), while other players in the Zbignew NECEK squad are following: GU Ruochen (WR 134), Kinga STEFANSKA (WR 271) and Agata ZAKRZEWSKA (WR 455).
TC Berlin Eastside added three new names: GU Yuting (WR 17), Matilda EKHOLM (WR 30) and Nina MITTELHAM (WR 58). Two Berlin`s legends, Georgina POTA (WR 37) and SHAN Xiaona (WR 54) will try to secure their places in the line-up, guided again by Coach Irina PALINA.
Linz AG Froschberg has decided to build its new team around Sofia POLCANOVA (WR 18) who will be supported by Hong Kong`s SOO Wai Yam Minnie (WR 33), Japan`s Yui HAMAMOTO (WR 34), Linda BERGSTRÖM (WR 113), Mariia TAILAKOVA (WR 126), Karoline MISCHEK (WR 159), Denise Payet (WR 318) and Rebekka CARLSEN (WR 339).
Former Froschberg`s ZHANG Mo (WR 23) has signed for TT Saint-Quentinois, being best ranked player of No. 5 ECLW seed. French side also counts on Polina MIKHAYLOVA (WR 49), Audrey ZARIF (WR 112) and Olga MIKHAYLOVA ( - ), Aurore LE MANSEC ( - ) and Lou FRETE ( - ).
There are two newcomers among the 12 ECLW participants, Etival Clairefontaine ASRTT from France (No. 6 seed) and Portugal`s Sporting Clube de Portugal SCP (No. 12). French side is better ranked than Portugal`s one, but Sporting has two well experienced players in the ECLW, Daniela DODEAN MONTEIRO (WR 95, her husband plays in the Sporting men`s team) and 2013 European Champion in the Women`s Singles Event, LI Fen (WR 153) from Sweden.