The English boy’s finished in 10th place at the Volkswagen World Junior Championships in Manama, Bahrain after their campaign finished with a defeat to Germany on Tuesday afternoon (local time).
Liam Pitchford, Gavin Evans and Sean Cullen had won their way through three fixtures against Bahrain, Egypt and Hong Kong before they lost in their final game to finish 10th – one place above their pre-tournament seeding. They may still look back to the defeat to Belgium on Sunday as their downfall, however, as a victory there would have guaranteed them at least eighth place.
England began their play-off fight for positions 9-20 by comfortably beating the hosts, Bahrain, 3-0. Evans beat Mohamed Bushelaibi in the first game in what would be his only victory of the play-off matches. His 3-0 win set England on their way as both Pitchford and Cullen followed suit by disposing of their opponents in straight games to cruise into the 9-14 play-offs.
There they faced Hong Kong – a different proposition from their full mens’ team, who they beat 3-1. Although Evans lost in the first game to Chung Hei Chiu, a Pitchford double and Cullen’s excellent win against King Ho Mak meant the English boys progressed again.
Their next opponents were the ever-improving Egyptians who, like Hong Kong, took the lead when Omar Bedair beat Evans in a tight 3-2 result where he was pushed all the way by the Englishman until Evans fell away in the final game and Bedair stormed to victory 11-2. England were again indebted to Pitchford’s double after his wins over Mohamed Shouman (3-1) and Bedair (3-0). Cullen’s straight games win against Shady Magdy ensured England progressed to the 9-10 play-off decider with Germany.
This time England started well with Pitchford taking match one with a comfortable 3-0 win over Qiu Dang. However, it was downhill after that as Evans, Cullen and Pitchford all lost to hand the Germans ninth spot in the Championships. Pitchford lost the fourth match 3-2 (11-9 in the fifth game), which sealed a 3-1 defeat – in his six previous matches he had dropped only one game but was outdone by Frederick Jost here.
Next up for the boys are the singles and doubles events with the first round of fixtures beginning tomorrow morning (7am for those interested in an early start!).
In the singles, Pitchford is seeded so avoids the group stages while Evans will face Bedair from Egypt, who beat him in that tight previous game, and also Hasan Juma from host nation Bahrain. Cullen will play Chia-Sheng Lee from Chinese Taipei and Mathieu Theriault from Canada.
Our boys’ doubles pairing is Pitchford and Cullen – their campaign will begin against Argentineans Andrei Di Salvo and Nicolas Galvano.
In the mixed doubles Pitchford and Solja Petrissa from Germany (who has only lost once in the team matches – a close 3-2 defeat to world number 7 Kasumi Ishikawa from Japan) are seeded so await to play a qualifier. Cullen and his partner Tessy Gonderinger (LUX) are due to face the Croatian pair of Filip Cipin and Mateia Jeger while Evans and partner Nina Mittelham (GER) will play against Hung-Ting Chen and Chia-Liang Hsu from Chinese Taipei.
Full England Results at bottom:
Selected England draws and (Bahrain) times below:
Liam Pitchford (bye to round one)
Chia-Sheng Lee (TPE) 16 Nov 6pm
Mathieu Theriault (CAN) 17 Nov 10:10am
Omar Bedair (EGY) 16 Nov 3:20pm
Hasan Juma (BRN) 17 Nov 10:50am
Sean Cullen/Liam Pitchford v Andrei Di Salvo/Nicolas Galvano (ARG) 17 Nov 7:20pm
Liam Pitchford/Solja Petrissa (GER) v Qualifier 16 Nov 10:30am
Sean Cullen/Tessy Gonderinger (LUX) v Filip Cipin/Mateia Jeger (HRV) 16 Nov 10am
Gavin Evans/N Mittelham (GER) v Hung-Ting Chen/Chia-Liang Hsu (TPE) 16 Nov 11am
England 3-0 Bahrain
G Evans bt M Bushelaibi 3-0 (11-7, 11-6, 11-8)
L Pitchford bt M Abbas Saleh 3-0 (11-4, 11-5, 11-4)
S Cullen bt L Jamal Muawadh 3-0 (11-7, 11-5, 12-10)
England 3-1 Hong Kong
C Hei Chiu bt G Evans 3-0 (13-11, 11-9, 11-5)
L Pitchford bt D Hung 3-0 (11-6, 11-2, 11-3)
S Cullen bt K Ho Mak 3-1 (11-4, 7-11, 11-9, 12-10)
L Pitchford bt C Hei Chiu 3-0 (11-6, 11-5, 11-9)
England 3-1 Egypt
O Bedair bt G Evans 3-2 (9-11, 11-6, 11-9, 6-11, 11-2)
L Pitchford bt M Shouman 3-1 (8-11, 11-4, 11-7, 11-4)
S Cullen bt S Magdy 3-0 (11-8, 11-6, 15-13)
L Pitchford bt O Bedair 3-0 (11-2, 11-7, 11-2)
Germany 3-1 England
L Pitchford bt Q Dang 3-0 (13-11, 11-3, 11-6)
F Jost bt G Evans 3-1 (11-8, 7-11, 11-6, 11-6)
K Ort bt S Cullen 3-1 (11-9, 11-8, 11-13, 11-9)
F Jost bt L Pitchford 3-2 (11-6, 5-11, 11-7, 4-11, 11-9)