England’s women successfully joined the men in the Challenge Division quarter-finals as they saw off Portugal 3-1 in their opening play-off tie at the ZEN-NOH 2014 World Team Championships in Tokyo, Japan.
After finishing as runners-up in Group G, the English girls were forced to play an extra match on their journey towards a potential berth in the top tier of world table tennis but make light work of their European opponents with a strong performance in front of the live stream cameras (watch full highlights here).
Joanna Drinkhall was the keystone of the England win with 3-0 victories over both Anna Neves and Rita Fins on Friday morning. Team mate Kelly Sibley picked up the other win, also over Neves, in the opening fixture of the match to see England towards the required victory. The only blemish on the scorecard came via a 3-2 defeat for Tin-Tin Ho against reigning Portuguese National Champion Leila Oliveira who won a close encounter – narrowly holding onto a 10-2 lead in the fifth to claim a point for Portugal 11-8.
The English quartet (Drinkhall, Sibley, Ho and Hannah Hicks) will now face former Group G opponents Lithuania in the quarter-finals and hope to avenge their 3-1 defeat to set-up a winner-takes-all match later in the day. Stopping Lithuanian top seed Ruta Paskauskiene, who won twice on Wednesday when the teams first met, could be crucial to deciding the outcome of the tie.
The women’s match will start at 05:00 GMT – the same time as the men who will face Nigeria after they beat Turkey as the tournament enters its crucial stages.
Find previous reports from the 2014 World Championships Group Stages here.
Latest 2014 World Team Championships, Tokyo (JPN) Scores:
Women’s Challenge Division Play-Offs:
England 3-1 Portugal
Kelly Sibley bt Anna Neves (238) 3-1 (6-11, 11-8, 11-3, 11-7)
Joanna Drinkhall bt Rita Fins (281) 3-0 (11-2, 11-4, 11-8)
Leila Oliveira (unranked) bt Tin-Tin Ho 3-2 (9-11, 12-10, 11-7, 5-11, 11-8)
Joanna Drinkhall bt Anna Neves 3-0 (11-8, 11-7, 11-6)
England vs Turkey or Nigeria
(Starts 05:00 GMT)
England vs Lithuania
(Starts 05:00 GMT)