Sophie Earley brilliantly knocked out the fourth seed in a spellbinding match at WTT Feeder Manchester.

Earley (pictured above, photo by Pawel Meryn) finally took a sixth match point as her Dutch opponent Britt Eerland fought all the way in front of a healthy crowd at the National Cycling Centre.

None of the other English women were able to join her in the last 16 as they went out to higher-ranked opponents. Liam Pitchford, Tom Jarvis and Paul Drinkhall are all through to the last 16 in the men’s.

Earley exuded positivity in her match against Eerland (WR 42), even though she admitted the end of the match was mentally painful.

After sharing the first two games, Earley edged the next 15-13, missing three game points and saving one – but that was only a precursor to a dramatic end to the match.

Having saved a game point at 10-9 in the fourth, she engineered a match point, only to see her opponent profit from a cruel net-cord and go on to win it 13-11.

Earley was ahead for most of the decider, though never by much, and earned more match points at 10-8, 11-10 and 12-11, all of which were saved by her spirited opponent, with some superb high-speed rallies thrilling the crowd.

Finally, the sixth was taken courtesy of an edge, fate perhaps giving back what it had taken on the match point in the fourth.

Relief for Earley to get over the line for a huge win over an opponent more than 250 places above her in the world rankings, and she will now face Italy’s Debora Vivarelli (WR 139) in the last 16.

Pitchford was up against Niagol Stoyanov of Italy (WR 112), an awkward customer who aims to deny his opponents any rhythm.

The England No 1 and top seed had to battle through – and drew strength from the crowd to do so – but earned his place in the last 16 to face Ricardo Walther of Germany (WR 86).

Drinkhall also faced Italian opposition in the shape of Mihai Bobocica (WR 82) and, in the last match of the day to finish, safely made it through in four.

It puts him through to face Marcos Madrid of Mexico, who had a big result, knocking out fourth seed Tiago Apolonia in five.

Earlier in the day, Jarvis ended Connor Green’s run as he defeated his England colleague in three games in the last 32.

Green picked up two big victories yesterday to reach the main draw of a senior WTT event for the first time, on only his second appearance.

He maybe had a right to expect a bit more luck in the draw than to be handed a tie against Jarvis, who beat his teenaged opponent on his way to winning his second national men’s singles title last season.

That match went to six of the scheduled seven games, but this one was shorter and, for Jarvis, sweeter as he never allowed Green to get a foothold and built such a momentum that the last of the three games he needed was won 11-1 – though it later transpired that Green had picked up a hamstring injury during the match, which has ruled him out of the Men’s Doubles quarter-final which he & Ben Piggott were due to play against Liam Pitchford & Paul Drinkhall tomorrow.

Jarvis’ reward is to play second seed and world No 29 Anders Lind of Denmark.

Connor Green congratulates Tom Jarvis (Photo by Pawel Meryn)

Jarvis was the only England player to make it through to the last 16 during session one of today’s play, as David McBeath, Shayan Siraj and Louis Price made their exits.

McBeath took the first game against Belgian opponent Martin Allegro, but the world No 64 and sixth seed hit back to take the next three by ever-increasing margins.

Price had a tough task against fifth seed and world No 59 Steffen Mengel of Germany and was not able to land enough blows to engineer an opening, going out in three.

Siraj faced Italy’s Matteo Mutti (WR 190), who came through qualifying, and he held his own – taking the third 12-10 but ultimately losing the fourth.

Shayan Siraj (picture by Pawel Meryn)

Third seed Alvaro Robles (WR 46) of Spain was the senior seed in action in the morning and he had a comfortable 11-7, 11-4, 11-6 win over Adam Szudi of Hungary (WR 261).

Second seed Lind went through to face Jarvis thanks to a 3-1 win over Ecuador’s Alberto Mino, but fourth seed Apolonia of Portugal went out at the hands of Madrid, 11-8 in a decider having been 2-1 up, with Madrid’s last-16 clash with Drinkhall confirmed by the Englishman’s win later.

In the Women’s Singles, Mollie Patterson was the first English player in action and she pushed France’s Audrey Zarif (WR 71) in three close games to go out with her head held high – on another day, she would have taken at least one game.

Mollie Patterson (picture by Pawel Meryn)

Wales’ Anna Hursey will feel disappointed to have narrowly missed out to Hana Matelova of Czech Republic, who at No 77 in the world is 19 places higher than Hursey.

Matelova, who has been higher in the rankings, recovered from 2-1 down to win it 3-2 (11-8, 7-11, 4-11, 11-8, 11-9).

Tin-Tin Ho, Mari Baldwin and Emily Bolton all went out to higher-ranked opponents, and Baldwin and Ho can count themselves unfortunate to have drawn the fifth and sixth seeds respectively.

Ho took the first against Yang Ha Eun (WR 60) of South Korea and was far from outclassed, though her opponent always looked in control after erasing an early 4-1 lead for Ho in the third.

Baldwin was drawn against Liu Hsing-Yin (WR 59), who pressed her foot to the floor in the third after the first two games were close.

Bolton was also unable to make any significant inroads against Ukraine’s WR 86, Margaryta Pesotska, going down in three.

Top seed Lily Zhang (USA) made it through in four against Nikoleta Stefanova of Italy, but third seed Xia Lian Ni (WR 41) of Luxembourg went out to Huang Yi-Hua (WR 74) of Chinese Taipei 3-2 (4-11, 11-9, 12-14, 11-8, 11-6). Second seed Kim Nayeong of South Korea is also safely through, in three against Sibel Altinkaya of Turkey.

Lily Zhang serves against Nikoleta Stefanova (picture by Pawel Meryn)


Women’s Singles
Round of 32

Audrey Zarif (FRA) bt Mollie Patterson 3-0 (12-10, 11-6, 14-12)
Sophie Earley bt Britt Eerland (NED) 3-2 (11-6, 3-11, 14-13, 11-13, 14-12)
Liu Hsing-Yin (TPE) bt Mari Baldwin 3-0 (11-7, 11-9, 11-1)
Yang Ha Eun (KOR) bt Tin-Tin Ho 3-1 (11-13, 11-7, 11-5, 11-7)
Margaryta Pesotska (UKR) bt Emily Bolton 3-0 (11-8, 11-5, 11-3)

Men’s Singles
Round of 32

Steffen Mengel (GER) bt Louis Price 3-0 (11-6, 11-4, 11-8)
Matteo Mutti (ITA) bt Shayan Siraj 3-1 (11-4, 11-7, 10-12, 11-5)
Martin Allegro (BEL) bt David McBeath 3-1 (7-11, 11-8, 11-5, 11-3)
Tom Jarvis bt Connor Green 3-0 (11-9, 11-7, 11-1)
Liam Pitchford bt Niagol Stoyanov (ITA) 3-1 (11-8, 10-12, 12-10, 11-7)
Paul Drinkhall bt Mihai Bobocica (ITA) 3-1 (11-7, 13-11, 7-11, 11-7)