England eased to a 3-0 victory over Serbia in the first of their European Team Championships Stage One double-header in Crawley tonight.

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Paul Drinkhall got the first point on the board in three games against Bence Bognar and Tom Jarvis won in four against Aleksa Gacev.

The third match saw Sam Walker up against Milos Dukic, but the match ended after only six points – Walker 4-2 up – as Dukic was unable to play through an arm injury.

That meant a forfeiture and therefore handed England the overall victory, but there was an extra bonus as Walker and Drinkhall played an exhibition match and were then joined by two young players picked from the crowd – Zachary and Nathanael – for a set of doubles.

There was no sign of the impromptu end to come back at the beginning of the night at the K2 arena, the court surrounded by repurposed boards from the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games and bathed in atmospheric spotlighting, with hundreds of spectators eagerly anticipating the match.

The teams news for England was that Liam Pitchford is nursing an arm injury and would therefore not be risked in this match or tomorrow’s meeting with France.

With Drinkhall, Jarvis, Walker and David McBeath to choose from, there were still plenty of options for coach Gavin Evans.

The teams line up in Crawley

Drinkhall opened up and was kept honest by Bence Bognar, who held a game point in the third before Drinkhall won it 12-10 to get England on the board.

Jarvis looked in terrific form against Aleksa Gacev, romping through the first two games for the loss of only four points.

Gacev found his radar to take the third 11-9, but Jarvis was not doing much wrong and resumed normal service in the fourth.

Then came that abrupt end – but England nevertheless have a morale-booster ahead of the tougher-looking clash against France.

Paul Drinkhall takes on Bence Bognar


England 3 Serbia 0
Paul Drinkhall bt Bence Bognar 3-0 (11-4, 11-9, 12-10)
Tom Jarvis bt Aleksa Gacev 3-1 (11-3, 11-1, 9-11, 11-6)
Sam Walker bt Milos Djukic 3-0 (w/o)