The draws for the Liebherr 2012 World Team Table Tennis Championships were made today with both the English sides optimistic of a promotion push come April.
The biennial event will take place in the German city of Dortmund from March 25th to April 1st with over 100 nations worldwide in attendance.
English hopes will rest on trying to gain promotion from the second divisions of both the Men’s and Women’s competitions.
The men finished the 2010 event in 38th place but have since shot up the world rankings to 27th, and since 25th and 26th place earns promotion to the Championship Division alongside the likes of China, Korea and Germany, they will hope they can make this leap next month.
The men are top seeds in Group H while they will face the dangerous-looking side of Egpyt (including Omar Assar) as well as Argentina (with Liu Song), Cuba, Venezuela and Australia.
If they manage to top the group they are likely to have to battle it out with the other top seeds in Romania, Brazil and Ukraine in order to gain promotion.
The women meanwhile are seeded second behind Italy in Group E. However, at the European Championships in Poland last year England beat Italy 3-1 and will remain confident of topping the group. Joining them in Group E will be India, Nigeria, Israel and Estonia.
The women finished 21st in the Championship Division last time out in Moscow but only the top 18 sides are guaranteed survival. As it turned out the girls were demoted to Division Two after their world ranking dropped to 31st. However, two sides they beat during the competition; France and Czech Rep, kept their top division place.
If they beat Italy (and the others) the women will have to get past the other seeded teams in Division Two like Slovakia, Lithuania and Portugal to return to the Championship Division.
To view the fixtures click the links below (provided by the ITTF):