Its been quite a few years since we beat the French. and when we do we must saviour it. This was one of those times and leading the way with an inspirational performance was Kelly Sibley. The world ranked player was in fine fettle as we finally put the record straight with a 3-1 win at the St Augustines Sport Centre, Preston.
Yet for a short while it looked as if this Joola European Nations League match might end earlier than hoped. Kelly was completely out of touch losing her two opening games to Audrey Mattenet. But taking on board a word from coach Alan Cooke and she became more confident and the game slowly began to slip away from the French girl.
With the cheers of the 150 spectators ringing in her ears she drew level and by the final game nobody was going to stop her.
Hannah Hicks defensive style seemed to worry the French No 1 Aurore Dessaint but for not for long.. There are over 400 world rankings between the two girls and the gap soon began to show as the French No 1 went on to win in four games.
Joanna Parker had no trouble in beating Alice Abbatt three straight games to put the visitors under real pressure, a position they must never have envisaged before the match had started.
But the match of the evening was left to last. Kelly against Dessaint proved to be a fitting climax to a great evening. Again starting slowly she lost the opening game but then reeled off three games on the trot to beat the French player and lead England to a famous victory.
” This was not about the result more about progression and our girls really showed that they can rub shoulders with the best,” said coach Alan Cooke… “Kelly in particular played inspirational table tennis. Once the confidence flowed.she got better and better,” said Cooke..
A brilliant two days of table tennis thanks to some hard work from our friends from the Preston League and in particular Jim Clegg.
England 3, France 1.
K Sibley beat A Mattenet -3, -4, 9,5,7.
H Hicks lost to A Dessaint 8, -3, -5, -7.
J Parker bt A Abbatt 5, 6, 6.
K Sibley bt A Dessaint -8, 12, 9, 7.
By Jim Beckley
Images courtesy Steve Parking Photography