It was almost like the mighty god of International Table Tennis for a moment forgave European Table Tennis for its rough and rowdy ways the last five years. For the few of us gathered in the Multiversum and the Werner Schlager Academy complex to witness the third day of championship action it seemed that way when one entertaining match after the other were served up in the playing courts of the 2013 European championships.
In the men’s team competition it was a done deal at about 2130 in the evening that the team from Greece will face Germany in the final tomorrow. The Germans led by Dimitrij Ovtcharov and the impressive youngster 20 year old Patrik Franziska had earlier in the afternoon fended of the pesky Russians winning three straight matches to remain then overwhelming favorite to bag another title – their sixth !! in a row if they succeed in tomorrow’s match.
But back to the semi-final between Belarus and Greece who had both one, two and three twist and turns. Belarus opened up a 2/0 lead in the team match. Pavl Platonov caught the Greek nr one Pangitiotis Gionis of guard in the opener and when then Vladimir Samsonov managed to negotiate Kalinikos Kreanga in the second match Belarus looked like the sure winner. However the Greeks threw the unbeaten fighter Konstantinos PAPAGEORGIU into the courts to win the first point for his team. Gionis then found a second gear when he battled all the way with Samsonov to win in five games. With match leveled at 2 the court was now clear for Kalinikos Kreanga to bring it all home – which he did in if not fantastic at least orderly fashion.
The women’s competition also had its fair share of drama – but more in moments. The Czech team aspired for further success when Renata STRBIKOVA opened up the semifinal against the favored Germans by winning against SHAN Xiaona.. But that was it as the German women’s team came up with three straight wins to advance. Petrissa Solja was coach Jie Schopps selection to play the third singles and she delivered nicely in her first match of the team tournament. The opponent in the final tomorrow will be the Romanian team who negotiated Russia in three straight matches early in the afternoon. No surprise there and it will be interesting to see if the Romanians can find confidence enough to battle the two Chinese born Germans who so far has been the backbone of the German team.
For those lucky enough to hang around in the Werner Schlager Academy hall late afternoon, early evening it was great fun filled matches to watch. The afternoon session started with a classic playoff battle to advance into the top division between Slovakia and Italy. You knew from the first point that the fight was on.. And surely enough it ended after almost three hours intense play with a true nail biter. Nigel Stoyanov was up 8-3 against Lubomir Pistej in the fifth game – but suddenly found himself down 9-10 facing one, two, three and even four match points before swinging the sword of luck to win the game 16-14 much to the joy and relief of his coach Patricio Deniso and the complete Italian delegation.
Another good story for the brave spectators this Sunday evening developed when a certain Michael Maze entered the hall to play his first and only match of the championships. Thirty-six minutes after entering the court he had to suffer defeat in his first match since November 2012. The winner was Stanislav GOLOVANOV from Bulgaria.
Michael was if not all smiles afterwards – at least admitting that the main reason for is appearance was to register one active match for the ITTF world ranking. Otherwise January seems to be the targeted date for a proper comeback. “I am back in training some table tennis. At the moment I can play 45 minutes or so three to four times a week and before this match I have played some eight to nine times. I hope to be able to play 100 % in the end of December or in the beginning of January Michael said