Tuesday night welcomes the first matches for England in the Joola European Championships Qualifying groups with the women facing Germany while the men take on Slovakia.
The women, back playing in the Championship Division with Europe’s elite, face a tough opening test against one of the favourites in Germany.
The German squad has been confirmed for the match in Dessau-Rosslau (18:30 GMT) with the experienced Zhenqi Barthel (WR 66) leading her side in their home fixture.
Joining her will be Kristin Silbereisen (47), Petrissa Solja (100) and Anja Schuh (298). Silbereisen, of course, will be looking to repeat her 4-1 victory over Joanna Parker from the Olympic Games while Solja may be known to some in the English table tennis community as Liam Pitchford’s mixed doubles partner in various World and European events.
Parker, Kelly Sibley and Hannah Hicks will have their work cut out if they are to salvage anything from this first fixture in Europe this season as the Championship Division immediately displays its strength. However, they will be buoyed by the fact both Wu Jiaduo (14) and Irene Ivancan (39) are not playing for the hosts.
England’s men meanwhile will fancy their chances to re-write recent history with Slovakia by opening their Challenge Division qualifying campaign in Senec with a victory.
While the teams haven’t met since 2010 it was one-sided in that affair at the World Team Table Tennis Championships (Dortmund) when Slovakia comfortably beat England 3-0.
Revenge will be on the cards for a much-improved England squad consisting of Paul Drinkhall, Liam Pitchford and Andrew Baggaley as the hope to exorcise the demons of that particular defeat with an impressive performance tonight (18:00 GMT)
Although the Slovakian team is yet to be confirmed the likely make-up of the side will include Thomas Keinath (95), Lubomir Pistej (136), Peter Sereda (165) and Erik Illas (231).
Zhenqi Barthel (TTG Bingen/Munster-Sarmsheim)
Petrissa Solja (Linz AG Froschberg)
Kristin Silbereisen (FSV Kroppach)
Anja Schuh (ATSV Saarbrucken)
Joanna Parker (TT Saint Quentin)
Kelly Sibley (Mirande/Cugnaux Villeneuve)
Hannah Hicks (CTT Santa Eularia)
Slovakia Men (unconfirmed)
Paul Drinkhall (SV Werder Bremen)
Liam Pitchford (TTF LIebherr Ochsenhausen)
Andrew Baggaley (SV Pluderhausen)