European Championships | 17 Sep 2023

Title no. 9 for Germany in the Women's Teams event in Malmö


At the 2023 STUPA European Table Tennis Championships in Malmö, Germany's women's team successfully defended their title, securing a spot at the Olympic Games in Paris for the team. The trio of Ying HAN, Nina MITTELHAM, and Xiaona SHAN, supported by Sabine Winter and Annett KAUFMANN, defeated Romania in the final with an outstanding performance, winning 3:0 and remaining undefeated in individual matches throughout the tournament. Andreea Dragoman, Adina DIACONU, and Elena ZAHARIA won silver, while the bronze medals went to France with YUAN Jia Nan, Prithika PAVADE, Charlotte LUTZ, and Audrey ZARIF, and Portugal with YU Fu, SHAIO Jieni, Ines MATOS, and Matilde PINTO.

This victory marks the ninth team gold for a German women's team at continental championships, tying Germany with the previous record holder, Hungary. It also represents the 51st gold in all European Championship competitions combined. For the team led by coaches Tamara Boros and Elke SCHALL-SÜSS, it's a successful revenge for their final loss to Romania at the European Games in Krakow just over two months ago.

Since 2013, 5 out of 7 European Championships Women's team finals have featured Germany and Romania. Additionally, at the European Games women's team finals in 2019 and 2023, these two teams faced each other in the final. In 2014, Germany defeated Austria in the final, and in 2019, Germany emerged victorious against Portugal.

Bernadette SZOCS is the only player who has participated in all 7 finals since 2013, while Elisabeta SAMARA has played in 6 of them.

Statistics may not secure titles, but they increase the odds and provide comfort in the nerve-wracking game of table tennis. The coaching duo of Germany made the perfect lineup decision for the final. Xiaona SHAN, placed at the top this time, faced the European singles champion in 2015, Elizabeta SAMARA, whom she had only lost to once in eight previous encounters, back in 2015. The Munich EC bronze medalist once again defeated the singles semi-finalist of this year's European Games in three games.

Ying HAN, placed second in the lineup, had lost to the top player Bernadette Szocs in the team final at the European Games in Krakow. On Sunday afternoon, it initially looked promising for the Romanian world number twelve. She patiently waited for the right defensive ball for her attack, engaging in longer chop rallies. The first set ended in an extension for SZOCS, and she led 8:4 in the second game before losing her momentum. Han, the world's best defensive player, increasingly demonstrated her attacking capabilities. Even in the closely contested fourth set, HAN'S courage paid off as she converted her second match point to secure a 12:10 victory, sealing the deal with a 3:1 win.

The 26-year-old silver medalist from 2022, Nina MITTELHAM, closed the chapter in an exciting match against the three years younger and completely unburdened Andreea DRAGOMAN. The Romanian double finalist from Munich pushed the Germany's player to her limits, succumbing only in the extension of the fifth game after MITTELHAM had saved two match points at 8:10.

"When I stepped into the box, I realized I was incredibly nervous, which is actually very unusual for me," admitted MITTELHAM. "In the end, I may not have played my best match in terms of gameplay, but I was mentally very strong. I am overjoyed that I could win the game, and we managed to beat Romania as a team. Our team's performance throughout the entire European Championship was outstanding."

"I am overjoyed that we have such a team," commented Ying HAN, acknowledging those who weren't nominated for Malmö. "This also includes our training group in Düsseldorf - it's just fantastic."