Nine English players head to Hungary this week for an important year-opening tournament at the GAC Group ITTF World Tour Hungary Open (Jan 29-Feb 1) in Szombathely.

With the Commonwealth Games 2014 on the horizon, international performances will be at the front of both the players’ and selectors’ minds as places for Glasgow come at a premium.

Chances to shine on the world circuit are not always easy to come by so the Challeger Event in Hungary provides a number of the players a great chance to not only improve their world ranking, but create some serious blows in the race for a spot in the summer squad.

Paul Drinkhall, in his return to international action, leads the English effort in Szombathely in the absence of Liam Pitchford who was busy on Friday in Germany winning twice (vs Wei Dong Shi and Carlos Machado) as his side TTF Liebherr Ochsenhausen made the ETTU Cup Semi-Finals, while wife Joanna Drinkhall also makes her calendar year bow.

Joining the couple in Hungary will be David McBeath, Andrew Baggaley, Sam Walker, Daniel Reed, Darius Knight, Kelly Sibley and Tin-Tin Ho with a full list of their opening fixtures below.

There’s also a healthy following from north of the border as Scotland have sent their squad ahead of the Commonwealths with Knight ready to face Calum Main in the Men’s Singles groups.

That fixture is one of four featuring English players to air on the first run of live matches on itTV. Catch the live action from the following matches by heading to the ITTF website at the times below:

09:30 Women’s Singles: Tin-Tin Ho v Nikoleta Stefanova (table 1)
13:15 Men’s Singles: Sam Walker v Andreas Levenko (table 1)
14:00 Men’s Singles: Darius Knight v Calum Main (table 2)
20:00 Women’s U21s: Tin-Tin Ho v Chiara Colantoni (table 2)

GAC Group 2014 ITTF World Tour Hungary Open (Szombathely, Jan 29th – Feb 1st)
Men’s Singles Groups:
Group 1:

Paul Drinkhall (world rank 134)
Ewout Oostwouder (NED, 524)
Kirill Gerassimenko (KAZ, 536)
Group 6:
Jon Persson (SWE, 147)
Vildan Gadiev (RUS, 430)
David McBeath (564)
Group 12:
Andrew Baggaley (176)
Krisztian Nagy (HUN, 447)
Lionel Weber (SUI, 663)
Group 31:
Robin Devos (BEL, 237)
Sam Walker (303)
Andreas Levenko (AUT, 754) T1
Group 32:
Daniel Reed (235)
Adam Szudi (HUN, 352)
Alexandr Gerassimenko (KAZ, 877)
Group 42:
Stanislav Golovanov (BUL, 268)
Darius Knight (294)
Calum Main (SCO, 1168) T1
Balazs Fixl (HUN, unr)

Women’s Singles Groups:
Group 2:

Nikoleta Stefanova (ITA, 129) T2
Viktoria Truzsinszki (SRB, 358)
Tin-Tin Ho (376)
Group 10:
Joanna Drinkhall (162)
Anja Schuh (GER, 325)
Timea Peterman-Varga (HUN, 415)
Rossella Scardigno (ITA, unr)
Group 18:
Kelly Sibley (200)
Gui Lin (BRA, 292)
Roza Soposki (FRA, 537)
Zsofia Feher (HUN, 1081)

Under-21 Boys’ Singles Groups:
Group 2:

Sam Walker (303)
Bence Majoros (HUN, 676)
Lars Ronneberg (NOR, 711)

Under-21 Girls’ Singles Groups:
Group 12:

Tin-Tin Ho (376)
Svetlana Mokhnacheva (RUS, 406)
Chiara Colantoni (ITA, unr) T2
Mirella Madacki (HUN, unr)

Written by Russell Moore (January 28, 2014)