Birthday boy Paul Drinkhall will be hoping to start 2012 with a bang

The wait is over and the first World Tour event of 2012 is upon us.

After the highs and lows of the last season culminating in the incredible spectacle held at ExCeL in November, we start again with this year’s World Tour (previously Pro Tour) starting in Budapest, Hungary tomorrow.

At the start of an Olympic year our British athletes have high hopes and want to make a big impression from the off. None more so than highest ranked British male player Paul Drinkhall who marks his birthday today and will be hoping for a place in the first round in Hungary as a first present.

The draws have been made for the singles qualifying groups in both the seniors and juniors competitions with plenty of English talent to keep an eye on over the next few days.

With Liam Pitchford unavailable because of his Bundesliga commitments the English charge is led by Drinkhall and Andrew Baggaley. Both are top seeds in their qualifying groups and would fancy their chances of progressing.

Meanwhile, Darius Knight and Daniel Reed are both second seeds but will fancy pulling off a shock against moderately rated opponents. The final two mens’ hopes; Chris Doran and David McBeath have tough draws against Frenchmen Damien Eloi and Simon Gauzy respectively.

For the women Joanna Parker and Kelly Sibley are both top seeds in their groups while fellow Olympic List contenders Liu Na, Naomi Owen, Emily Bates, Alice Loveridge and Hannah Hicks all face tough challenges to get into the first round.

In the under-21s Chris Doran is the only top seed while David McBeath, Emily Bates, Alice Loveridge and Hannah Hicks must once again overcome the odds to progress.

Doran will face Emilien Vanrossomme from Belgium who regularly faces British opponents as this is his sixth meeting with a Brit since July last year. He has been beaten by Doran, Knight, Ryan Jenkins and Pitchford (in a doubles match) while he beat Sean Cullen last November.

Interestingly, Kelly Sibley’s singles opponents of Gui Lin and Csilla Nagypal are also Hannah Hick’s under-21s opponents. Coincidence? The fact that Nagypal has a world ranking of 666 is sure to get the theories going.

For full reports from the Hungarian Open don’t forget to keep an eye on while our Facebook and Twitter feeds will also provide up-to-date coverage.

You can also catch selected matches on itTV – the ITTF’s online streaming service.

Draws of selected British players

Mens Singles Qual Groups (Country, World rank)


Damien Eloi (FRA, 75)

Christopher Doran

Gilles Michely (LUX, 487)


Simon Gauzy (FRA, 129)

Frane Kojic (CRO, 373)

David McBeath


Paul Drinkhall

Jose Miguel Ramirez (GUA, 314)

Tobias Lau (DEN,  644)


Andrew Baggaley

Martin Storf (AUT, 346)

Florent Lambiet (BEL, 665)


Hugo Hoyama (BRA, 176)

Daniel Reed

Eskil Lindholm (NOR, 951)


Erik Illas (SVK, 184)

Darius Knight

Dorde Borcic (SRB, Unr)

Womens Singles Qual Groups


Dora Madarasz (HUN, 100)

Aneta Kucerova (CZE, 308)

Naomi Owen (WAL)


Tamara Boros (CRO, 112)

Aleksandra Radonjic (SRB, 337)

Hannah Hicks


Galia Dvorak (ESP, 114)

Hana Matelova (CZE,  335)

Alice Loveridge (GGY)


Joanna Parker

Jessica Yamada (BRA, 331)

Daniela Moskovits (SWE,  450)


Cornelia Molnar (CRO,  132)

Meral Ildiz Ali (TUR,  311)

Emily Bates


Kelly Sibley

Gui Lin (BRA,  253)

Csilla Nagypal (HUN, 666)


Katarzyna Grzybowska (POL, 181)

Na Liu (IRL)

Marietta Angyal (HUN, Unr)

Boys Under-21 Qual Groups


Mattias Oversjo (SWE,  361)

David McBeath

Domonkos Kovac (HUN,  788)


Christopher Doran

Emilien Vanrossomme (BEL, 505)

Ilija Majstorovic (SRB, 1027)

Girls Under-21 Qual Groups


Mateja Jeger (CRO, 232)

Emily Bates

Szilvia Fulop (HUN,  558)


Ivana Tubikanec (CRO,  246)

Alice Loveridge (GGY)

Maryia Kuchuk (BLR, 567)


Gui Lin (BRA, 253)

Hannah Hicks

Csilla Nagypal (HUN, 666)