The main draw at the 2013 Liebherr European Championships saw four English players through to the last 64 of the singles after the final day of qualification concluded in Austria.
For Liam Pitchford, Andrew Baggaley and Joanna Drinkhall, progression was straightforward as each player came into the day knowing a victory would see them top their respective group – something they each achieved.
However, Sam Walker and Kelly Sibley would both endure very different emotions during a decisive day at the Werner Schlager Academy in Schwechat.
Walker, who had already fulfilled his fixtures on Tuesday and Wednesday, had to wait patiently for the result of the match between Lubomir Pistej (SVK, 169) and Sas Lasan (SLO, 179) to see if he could advance. As the 18-year-old had beaten Pistej 3-0 but lost to Lasan 3-1, he needed the Slovakian to win to guarantee his progression via countback.
Fortunately enough, despite dropping the second game, Pistej won by the required 3-1 to send Walker through to his first main draw at the European Championships on his debut at the expense of the distraught Lasan.
For Sibley, her progression was still in her own hands. She met the top seed in her group Hana Matelova (CZE) with a win ensuring her spot in the main draw. However, after Matelova had already lost to Turkey’s Sanem Sahin, a 3-1 or 3-2 defeat would have also seen her through.
With the English girl’s match at 2-2 and 9-9 there seemed to be no harm. But, after the Czech girl had won the next two points and news came across of Sahin’s defeat to Andrea Daubnerova (RUS), all of a sudden the count back (which would have been in Sibley’s favour) was no longer valid and Matelova topped the group instead by virtue of her head-to-head record.
The current English National Champion then had a nervous wait to see if she was one of seven ‘lucky losers’ to reach the draw from second place, but unfortunately this was not to be the case.
She will play again, though, after she advanced to the last 32 of the Women’s Doubles alongside Drinkhall. They achieved a 3-1 win over Olga Baranova and Elena Troshneva (RUS) to win their group and set up a meeting with German’s Petrissa Solja and Sabine Winter.
There was also good news for Hannah Hicks and Tin-Tin Ho who both won their final group fixture to end the campaign on a high after victories over Rahel Aschwanden (SUI) and Anna Grutle Aasebo (NOR) respectively.
Full draws and results can be seen below.
2013 Liebherr European Championships (Schwechat, AUT)
Liam Pitchford (126) vs Alexander Shibaev (RUS, 58)
Sam Walker (430) vs Tiago Apolonia (POR, 36)
Andrew Baggaley (153) vs Patrick Franziska (GER, 45)
Joanna Drinkhall (159) vs Li Fen (SWE, 88)
Joanna Drinkhall/Kelly Sibley v Petrissa Solja/Sabine Winter (GER)
Liam Pitchford (126) bt Xiaoquan Feng (AUT, 238) 3-2 (8-11, 11-7, 5-11, 11-9, 11-6)
Jean Michel-Saive (BEL, 130) bt Daniel Reed (228) 3-0 (11-8, 12-10, 13-11)
Andrew Baggaley (153) bt Andre Silva (POR, 211) 3-1 (12-10, 10-12, 11-2, 13-11)
Tin-Tin Ho (410) bt Anna Grutle Aasebo (NOR, 758) 6-11, 11-9, 11-3, 11-4)
Joanna Drinkhall (159) bt Monika Pietkiewicz (POL, 273) 3-1 (11-7, 6-11, 11-9, 11-8)
Hannah Hicks (556) bt Rahel Aschwanden (SUI, 490) 3-1 (11-9, 3-11, 11-8, 11-4)
Hana Matelova (CZE, 181) bt Kelly Sibley (213) 3-2 (11-7, 4-11, 8-11, 11-6, 11-9)
Antonin Gavlas/Petr Korbel (CZE) bt Liam Pitchford/Sam Walker walkover
Enzo Angles/Abdel-Kader Salifou (FRA) bt Andrew Baggaley/Daniel Reed 3-1 (11-8, 11-8, 2-11, 13-11)
Hannah Hicks/Tin-Tin Ho bt Amanda Fauvel/Celine Reust (SUI) 3-2 (9-11, 11-2, 6-11, 11-3, 11-0)
Joanna Drinkhall/Kelly Sibley bt Olga Baranova/Elena Troshneva (RUS) 3-1 (11-5, 11-9, 9-11, 11-7)
Written by Russell Moore (October 10, 2013)