Paul Drinkhall started with a double victory and Sam Walker, Charlotte Carey and Tin-Tin Ho also picked up wins as the European Singles Qualification Tournament got under way in Portugal today.
With places at the Tokyo Olympics at stake, Welsh No 1 Carey got the Team GB contingent off to the perfect start as she fought back from 2-0 down to defeat Italy’s Debora Vivarelli 4-2 – a big win against an opponent 80 places above her at No 71 on the world rankings.
A mostly close match turned on the fourth game, which Carey won 12-10 to pull level, and she kicked on to take the next emphatically.
A run from 3-6 down to 9-6 up proved pivotal in the sixth, but Carey took her time-out at 10-9 after seeing her first two match points disappear – the third, though, was taken and Carey next faces world No 139 Tatiana Kukulkova of Slovakia tomorrow.
Ho took a game to get to grips with Slovenia’s Ana Tofant, finally taking a fifth game point to seal it 13-11, but it was pretty plain sailing after that as Tofant (WR 242) took only 13 points across the next three games.
Ho’s next match was a tougher prospect against Serbia’s Sabina Surjan (WR 137) and though the English No 1 fought back from losing the first game to lead 2-1, Surjan stepped it up to taake the next three for a 4-2 victory. Ho finishes the group stage against Polina Trifonova of Bulgaria (WR 408) tomorrow.
Drinkhall was the first of the two British men on court and enjoyed a routine win over Turkey’s Ibrahim Gunduz (WR 166) in four straight.
He then took control of Group B with a 4-1 win over Romania’s world No 149 Rares Sipos, who had also won his first match. It was comfortable most of the way, though Sipos did level at 1-1 despite Drinkhall saving five game points from 5-10.
Once he took the next to get himself back in front, it was straightforward for Drinkhall, who finishes against Daniels Kogans of Latvia tomorrow.
There was an opening defeat for Sam Walker, understandably rusty as he returns from an ankle injury, as he went down in five against Eric Glod (WR 210) of Luxembourg.
His second match against world No 104 Florent Lambiet of Belgium saw him put him an aggressive performance and win 4-2 to keep his qualification hopes alive.
Walker’s final group match is against Alex Naumi of Finland (WR 265) tomorrow.
Charlotte Carey bt Debora Vivarelli (ITA) 4-2 (8-11, 9-11, 11-8, 12-10, 11-4, 11-9)
Tin-Tin Ho bt Ana Tofant (SLO) 4-0 (13-11, 11-4, 11-2, 11-7)
Sabina Surjan (SRB) bt Ho 4-2 (11-6, 11-13, 6-11, 11-6, 11-3, 11-9)
Paul Drinkhall bt Ibrahim Gunduz (TUR) 4-0 (11-9, 11-4, 11-4, 11-7)
Drinkhall bt Rares Sipos (ROU) 4-1 (11-8, 10-12, 11-8, 11-1, 11-6)
Eric Glod (LUX) bt Sam Walker 4-1 (9-11, 11-6, 11-5, 11-9, 11-4)
Walker bt Florent Lambiet (BEL) 4-2 (11-9, 11-7, 11-6, 10-12, 9-11, 11-8)
How to watch tomorrow
The event is being streamed live on ETTU TV. The second-day matches involving Team GB players are:
11am: Charlotte Carey v Tatiana Kukulkova (Table 2)
12.40pm: Tin-Tin Ho v Polina Trifonova (T2)
1.30pm: Paul Drinkhall v Daniels Kogans (T5, not streamed)
3.10pm: Sam Walker v Alex Naumi (T3)