Yanfei Shen heads to Gateshead (picture courtesy of the ITTF)

England’s task in Gateshead to save their Championship Division status in the European Championships has been made even harder with the news that world number 8, Yanfei Shen, will be travelling to the North East.

Shen has been deadly in 2012 with recent tour wins at the ITTF World Tour German Open where she beat Iveta Vacenovska (CZE) 4-2 (11-6, 8-11, 11-13, 11-8, 11-5, 11-8) in the final, and also the ITTF World Tour Japan Open where she defeated Kim Kyungah (KOR) 4-1 (5-11, 11-4, 11-8, 14-12, 17-15) to take the title home.

Last week she was also a losing finalist at her ‘home’ ITTF World Tour Spanish Open. Despite reaching the final, she was beaten by Hong Kong’s Jiang Huajun 4-1 (11-9, 11-7, 9-11, 11-9, 11-6).

The 33-year-old, originally from Hebei, China, was a participant in the 2012 London Olympic Games but was unable to fulfill her country’s expectations by falling at the round of 16 stage to Kim Kyungah (KOR) – the same girl she had beaten just one month previously in the Japan Open.

In the team event, she was joined by her colleagues who will also travel to Gateshead, Sara Ramirez (world rank 75) and Galia Dvorak (137).

Unfortunately for them, they came up against China in the first round in ExCeL and were unable to make any inroads as the favourites won 3-0 to begin their campaign for another gold.

To see these players in action buy your tickets here from just £1!

Full teams for England vs Spain (Gateshead Leisure Centre, Tues 29th Jan, doors open 18:00)

Joanna Parker
Kelly Sibley
Hannah Hicks
Coach: Alan Cooke

Shen Yanfei
Sara Ramirez
Galia Dvorak
Coach: Zhu Fang

Thanks to Gateshead Council for putting on this European Qualification match